It’s Independence Day


“He Whakaputanga te matua, Te Tiriti te tamaiti.
He Whakaputanga is the parent, Te Tiriti is the child.” (Hone Sadler, Ngāpuhi)

On this day in 1835 rangatira in the north, along with British representatives gathered to sign He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni (the Declaration of Independence). Its a foundational document for this country. In He Whakaputanga, the rangatira asserted their mana, rangatiratanga and independence over the northern parts of New Zealand. They stated that any foreign authority could be exercised only as they directed. They also agreed to meet annually at Waitangi for the purpose of framing laws for the purposes of justice, peace, good order, and trade. They invited hapū from southern parts of the country to join them in this (rangatira from other regions added their signatures over the following years). The Declaration was recognised by the British, French and US governments.

The independence of the hapū asserted in He Whakaputanga was affirmed in 1840 in Te Tiriti o Waitangi. As the Waitangi Tribunal recently concludedin February 1840 the rangatira who signed te Tiriti did not cede their sovereignty. That is, they did not cede their authority to make and enforce law over their people or their territories. Rather, they agreed to share power and authority with the Governor. They agreed to a relationship: one in which they and Hobson [who represented the British Crown] were to be equal – equal while having different roles and different spheres of influence. In essence, rangatira retained their authority over their hapu and territories, while Hobson was given authority to control Pākehā.’

It’s a busy day in Te Whanganui a Tara, if you are in the capital you might be heading to parliament to resist racism, or remembering the NZ Wars by attending the new exhibition at Te Papa, or attending this picnic to reflect on all the significant events of the day (extra points for doing all three!). With your spare time in between take a moment (realistically a good hour) to visit He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni (the Declaration of Independence), housed at the National Library. If you’re elsewhere in the country then take time to learn more about He Whakaputanga by reading more or watching this wonderfully clear and informative kōrero by Moana Jackson.

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