Chief's speeches 1840

Images courtesy John Ansell

Read the info below and then tell me that the chiefs did not know that they were signing full sovereignty over to the Queen, or did not understand what they were signing.


The words of the chiefs themselves display a full awareness that their acceptance of Governor Hobson would place him in authority over them, and that behind Hobson stood Queen Victoria.

Anyone who has read eyewitness accounts of the signing of the Treaty and continues to believe Maori thought they were going into “partnership” with the Crown needs to go away and boil their head to clear their thoughts.

On 5 February 1840, the Treaty was first debated at Waitangi by Ngapuhi chiefs assembled there for that purpose.

*Te Kemara (Ngati Kawa) spoke first, observing that the effect of signing the Treaty would be for “the Governor to be up, and Te Kemara down.” Under the Governor, he could be “tried and condemned” and even “hung by the neck” should he behave badly enough.

* Rewa (Ngati Taweke) spoke next, saying: “This country is ours … we are the Governor.” Like Te Kemara, Rewa saw that chiefly authority would be trumped by that of Hobson: “[Authority over] Your land will be taken from you and your dignity as chiefs will be destroyed.”

* Moka (Patukeha) then stood up. “Let the governor return to his own country. Let us remain where we are [as ruling powers in the land].”

* Tamati Pukututu (Te Uri-o-Te-Hawato) was the first to speak up for Hobson: “Sit, Governor, sit, for me, for us. Remain here, a father for us.”

* Matiu (Uri-o-Ngongo) stood next, reiterating what the previous speaker had said: “Do not go back, but sit here, a Governor, a father for us.”

* Kawiti (Ngati Hine) was another who rejected the Governor: “We do not want to be tied up and trodden down. We are free. Let the missionaries remain, but, as for thee, return to thine own country.” His fellow chiefs were warned that acceptance of Hobson meant the Governor would be able to order: “Kawiti must not paddle this way, nor paddle that way, because the Governor said ‘No.’”

* Pumuka (Te Roroa) rose next, saying: “I will have this man a foster-father for me.” To the Governor: “I wish to have two fathers – thou and Busby, and the missionaries.”

* Warerahi (Ngaitawake), then addressed his fellow chiefs: “Is it not good to be in peace? We will have this man as our Governor” and “Say to this man of the Queen, Go back! No, no.”

* Hakiro (Ngatinanenane) was another recalcitrant: “We are not thy people. We are free. We will not have a Governor.”

* Tareha (Ngatirehia) stood after Hakiro and told Hobson: “We, we only are the chiefs, rulers. We will not be ruled over.” Never would he accept “the Governor up high” and Tareha “down, under, beneath!”

* Rawiri (Ngatitautahi) rose to greet the Governor in English as his “Father,” saying, “Stay here, O Governor! … that we may be in peace.”

* Hone Heke (Matarahurahu) reiterated what previous speakers in favour of Hobson had said: “Remain, Governor, a father for us.”

* Hakitara (Te Rarawa), also stood up for the Governor, though most of his words were drowned out by side conversations taking place after Heke had spoken.

* Tamati Waka Nene (Ngatihao) then told Hobson: “[R]emain for us – a father, a judge, a peacemaker. Stay thou, our friend, our father, our Governor.”

* Eruera Maehe Patuone, Tamati Waka Nene’s older brother, spoke next, saying: “Remain here with us, to be a father for us, that the French have us not.”

* Te Kemara (who’d spoken first) here jumped up again, saying to the Governor: “Go away; return to thine own land.” To the chiefs, he said: “Let us all be alike [in rank, in power].” Then in an abrupt about-face he told Hobson: “O Governor! remain. But, the Governor up! Te Kemara down, low, flat! No, no, no.”

After the Treaty was endorsed by the chiefs at Waitangi, Crown agents went throughout New Zealand seeking signatures. Most chiefs could see the benefit of signing and soon did so, but a substantial minority, centred on the Tainui, Tuwharetoa and Tuhoe Confederations did not.



186O Kohimarama Conference.

One of the largest gathering of Maori chiefs since the signing of the Tiriti o Waitangi was held at Kohimarama in 1860 where the chief’s swore their allegiance to the Queen’s Rule, with a unanimous vote, “Do not consent that the Treaty should be for the Europeans alone, but let us take it for ourselves. Let this meeting be joined to the Treaty of Waitangi, let us urge upon the Government not to withhold it from us. That this conference takes cognisance of the fact that several chiefs, members thereof, are pledged to each other to do nothing inconsistent with their declared recognition of the Queen’s sovereignty, and of the unions of the two races”.