The Catholic Agency for Justice, Peace and Development

The Treaty of Waitangi

The Treaty of Waitangi is a living document that forms the basic relationship between Māori and the Crown in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi - The Treaty of Waitangi is an agreement between the Crown and Māori signed in 1840. It is often referred to as a 'living document', and recognises the prior occupation by Māori of Aotearoa New Zealand. It allowed for the peaceful acquisition of land for European settlement and ensured that immigrants could come to live here.

The Treaty allowed the Crown to set up a government and to establish laws, and uUnder the Treaty the Crown was to guarantee and protect Māori tribal authority over their lands, fisheries, forests, villages, taonga (treasures) and culture. The Treaty also extended to Māori the status and rights of British citizens.

The Treaty lays out what the basic relationship between Māori and the Crown should be and is the foundation document of contemporary Aotearoa New Zealand. It is often referred to today in relation to land ownership; land use; ownership and use of other natural resources; and the economic, social and political status of Māori. 

Even up to the present day, the Treaty has not always been honoured as it should. Much land was taken from Māori unfairly and in violation of the Treaty. There have also been other injustices done to Māori since the Treaty was signed. These things have influenced how Māori are today and the relationship between Māori and other New Zealanders. Work has been undertaken by both Māori and non-Māori to address these injustices, to seek redress for past wrongs and to work in partnership for the future.

It is important for all New Zealanders to know and understand the Treaty. This is not only so we know the history of our country, but also to aid a better understanding of the New Zealand we live in today. This will help relationship-building between Māori and other New Zealanders to create a better society based on peace and justice.

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