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Waitangi Day. What’s it all about?

February 6, 2013

Waitangi Day and the Treaty of Waitangi

Fragment of the Treaty

Fragment of the Treaty

Waitangi Day marks the most significant moment in New Zealand’s history — when representatives of the British Crown and Māori Chiefs signed what is generally regarded as our foundation document, the Treaty of Waitangi on 6 February 1840 at Waitangi in the Bay of Islands, Northland. The Treaty saw New Zealand become part of the British Empire.

No matter who you are, this document affects your life if you live in New Zealand, so it’s important to understand at least a little about it!   If you’d like more information about the Treaty, you can find out here or also here.  Of course, Te Papa national museum in Wellington also has many resources, and is also holding debates on the Treaty.

There have been numerous books written about this document and what it means. Some of the more popular and/or more recent follow … or you can simply search our catalogue using the keyword Treaty.

The Treaty of Waitangi / Claudia Orange : Originally published in 1987, and written by a leading Treaty scholar, Dr Claudia Orange, this outstanding history won the Montana Book of the Year Award. In the 2011 edition, the author brings the narrative up to 2010 – covering the Waitangi Tribunal, the impact of major settlements, and legislation such as the Foreshore and Seabed Act of 2004. –

Weeping waters : the Treaty of Waitangi and constitutional change / Mulholland, Malcolm, 1976-; Tawhai, Veronica M. H.  (2010)

The great divide / Ian Wishart (2012) : Working from the original documents from 200 years ago, directly challenges the findings of books like Michael King’s Penguin History of New Zealand or Claudia Orange’s Treaty of Waitangi. For example, the author suggests that the Treaty of Waitangi as we currently debate it (1840 version) was actually rendered legally obsolete by an 1860 meeting between the Government and 200 Maori chiefs in Auckland, raising questions about the constitutional status of the Treaty as people currently understand it.

– Natalie

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