Quotes

In their own words…

Henry Williams

‘My view of the Treaty of Waitangi is, as it ever was, that it was the Magna Charta of the aborigines of New Zealand.’

Henry Williams to Bishop Selwyn (12 July 1847)

‘I was necessitated, therefore, to fall back on the Treaty and by explaining and distributing several copies amongst the chiefs, maintained my ground and the honour of the Queen; all acknowledging that the terms of the Treaty were good and honest. But for the timely distribution of the Treaty I hesitate not to say that the native population to a man would have been in arms and the question of possession might have been settled for a time by the extermination of all the Europeans in this part of the Island, leaving, as in the melancholy affairs of Kabul, others at some future date to seek for recompense. Feeling, as I did, that the terms of the Treaty were a sacred compact between the British Government and the chiefs of New Zealand, I was enabled to speak with confidence as to the integrity and honour of England, that it was impossible that the Queen or Governor could admit of any deceit towards them.’

Henry Williams to Bishop Selwyn (20 February 1845)

Hone Heke

‘The Treaty of Waitangi is all soap. It is very smooth and oily, but treachery is hidden under it.’

Hone Heke to Henry Williams (5 February 1845, at Kaikohe)

 ‘Friend Governor — This is my speech to you. My disobedience and rudeness is no new thing. I inherit it from my parents, from my ancestors, do not imagine that it is a new feature of my character, but I am thinking of leaving off my rude conduct towards the Europeans. Now I say that I will prepare another pole, inland at Waimate, and I will erect it at its proper place at Kororareka, in order to put an end to our present quarrel. Let your soldiers remain beyond sea, and at Auckland, do not send them here. The pole that was cut down belonged to me, I made it for the native flag, and it was never paid for by the Europeans.’

Hone Heke to Governor FitzRoy

The translation by Thomas Forsaith. Letter from Heke to Governor Fitzroy at Auckland Public Library.)

Dandeson Coates

‘I would argue, from this Document [the 1835 Declaration of Independence], that it clearly establishes … that New Zealand is recognised by this Country as an independent and sovereign State; consequently any Act on the Part of the Government or Legislature of [Great Britain] which would infringe the acknowledged national Sovereignty is one which the British Government cannot warrantably [sic] adopt.’

Dandeson Coates, Lay Secretary of the Church Mission Society, (14 May 1838, Minutes of Evidence before Select Committee on the Islands of New Zealand, House of Lords, 1838.)

Rangi Topeora

“Sir, greetings to you and your worthy deeds. Here in Otaki, I am being overwhelmed by these unworthy citizens who have dared to set up their own king …. They are troublesome and annoying … [signed] Queen Topeora.”

Rangi Topeora of NgĀti Toa
Ōtaki, in a letter to Donald McLean
(McLean, Papers. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington re the King Movement.)

George Clarke

‘By a strange process of reasoning Mr Busby denies Tribal rights or the existence of any rights whatever, and yet admits that according to Maori … customs before the Treaty of Waitangi, [Te] Teira would not have been allowed to dispose of his land. [Busby] says, if [Te] Teira had-offered land for sale before the Treaty … he would without a doubt have been forced to succumb to the superior influence of Wiremu Kingi. In thus admitting the course Wiremu Kingi would have pursued before the Treaty … he unintentionally proves the existence of Tribal rights…. I repeat that the rights of Chieftainship … were fully recognized … and fully understood by both parties to the Treaty….

George Clarke, former missionary and Chief Protector of Aborigines

(Remarks on a Pamphlet by James Busby, Auckland, 1861 re the Waitara dispute.)

Maori Proverb

He aha te mea nui? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata!

What is the most important thing? It is people, people, people!

William Williams

‘The word, pakeha, as applied to foreigners, seems to imply that those who first so used it thought the white-skinned strangers to be something not exactly human. The word appears to be a shortened form of pakepakeha, which is another name for patupaiarehe [the name used for a mythical race somewhat akin to the fairies], but where it was first applied to white people I have been unable to ascertain.’

Archdeacon W. L. Williams

(Journal of the Polynesian Society, 1893)

Richard Taylor

“Captain Hobson came with fair promises and brought with him the [Church Missionary] Society’s request that we should afford him every aid which lay in our power; this request was attended to, and the natives relying upon their teachers assumed that the establishment of British Authority would be conducive to their future prosperity, at once acceded to our request… I will give him [Governor Fitzroy] his due, and say that I think he did not infringe on the main articles of the Treaty. But the setting aside of it soon began to be openly talked of. The declaration of Lord Stanley ‘that all uncultivated lands were the property of the Crown’ soon reached us and the natives also. And it is to this circumstance that all the subsequent misunderstandings and open revolt is in my opinion to be attributed.”

R. Taylor to D. Coates, 18 August 1845

Unknown Maori writer from Taranaki
to Archdeacon Octavius Hadfield

“Hadfield, we have not wronged anyone but rather the Governor is at fault for taking the lands at Waitara. Now that was the first of many wrongs perpetrated by the Governor… the second was the raising of the army to go to Waitara by land, by sea and at nighttime. Is not the travel in the night a journey only thieves take?”

(5 September 1861, O. Hadfield, Papers. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington)