For amateur historians and trivia collectors everywhere

Location: Masterton, New Zealand

I survived school history despite the best efforts of the education system to bore me to death. Many years later, I discovered Treaties, dates, the movement of nations, are mere context. The fascination is in the details.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Waitangi Day,
when New Zealanders celebrate, commemorate or mourn (depending on their point of view) the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, which has become known as the founding document of their nation.
E.J. Wakefield, a pioneer and propagandist for the New Zealand Company, jealous of Government and missionary intentions, had this to say when the treaty arrived at Wellington in April 1840 -

On the 19th April, the Rev. Henry Williams had arrived from the Bay of Islands, in the Ariel schooner.
It appeared that one of the first measures of Captain Hobson, after his arrival in January, had been to acquire some territory over which he might extend his dominion. He had accordingly assembled some two hundred natives living at or near the Bay, and about one hundred Europeans, including missionaries and officers of his suite; and had proceeded to ask the chiefs, through Mr. Williams as interpreter, to give the Queen the power to protect and restrain them. And a document had been read and interpreted to them; which, after a good deal of hesitation and opposition, thirty or forty chiefs had signed on the next day. We understood that by this document the chiefs had ceded their sovereignty to the Queen of England; but we remained in ignorance of any of its other provisions.
Now it just oozed out, that Mr. Williams was charged to procure the assent of the chiefs in Cook's Strait to a similar cession of their sovereignty, in order to make the document a secure foundation on which to build the assumption of the sovereignty by the English Crown.
Adventure In New Zealand, 1845.


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