Queen & Sovereignty

Maori supremacists often say why would Maori cede full sovereignty when in 1840 they had majority numbers.

The fact is although they had majority numbers they were not unified and were fighting amongst themselves which led to some chiefs asking for British rule.

Why would the Queen of England arguably the most powerful nation on earth at that time sail half way around the world and make a deal with a collection of warring tribes if she did not obtain full sovereignty?

Further, Hobson made it clear at Waitangi that “the law of England gave no civil powers to her Majesty out of her domain”. Therefore protection from the French and others (tribes) that the chiefs sought required cession of sovereignty.

It was their choice and they ceded.

Furthermore if the chiefs believed that they did not cede full sovereignty then why did they set their slaves free, end daughter slaughter and cannibalism?


The chiefs comments prior to signing the Treaty show that they fully understood that they would be ceding sovereignty when they signed.

Read the info below provided by Reuben P Chapple and then make up your own mind if the chiefs did not know that they were signing full sovereignty over to the Queen.

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.


Transfer of sovereignty

There are three ways in which one state may acquire sovereignty over another – by cession, by conquest, and by occupation. The British government gained the sovereignty over New Zealand through four ways.

1. Cession by treaty. A total of 512 chiefs, including 13 women, signed the Treaty of Waitangi, mostly the Maori language text, at 34 locations around New Zealand between February 6 and May 21, 1840. As a reminder, all the treaty actually says is that the Queen is sovereign and Maori are her subjects, with the rights of subjects, including possession of property.

2. Proclamation. Lieutenant Governor William Hobson proclaimed sovereignty over the North Island on May 21, 1840, on the grounds of cession by treaty. Major Thomas Bunbury and Captain Joseph Nias R.N. proclaimed sovereignty over Stewart Island on June 5 on the basis of Cook’s discovery, and over the South Island on June 17, at Port Underwood, on the basis of cession. The proclamations appeared in the London Gazette on October 2, 1840.

3. Occupation. Around 2000 non-Maori, predominantly British people occupied New Zealand in 1840. By 1858, settlers outnumbered Maori by 3000: 59,000 to 56,000. By 1881 there were 500,000 settlers.

4. Conquest
. If the defeats of tribes who took up arms against the government during the 1860s is to be considered, the British government also confirmed sovereignty over New Zealand by conquest. In those wars, a total of 2154 anti-government Maori and 745 pro-government Maori, settlers and British soldiers were killed.