Declaration of Independence (New Zealand)

Where can I find information about He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga – The Declaration of Independence?

Entry last updated: 16/06/17

Introduction

He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga – The Declaration of Independence was signed on 28 October 1835 by 34 northern Māori chiefs. The document declared the independence of Nu Tirene (New Zealand) under the rule of the United Tribes of New Zealand or the Confederation of United Tribes.

The signing of the Declaration

James Busby called a hui (meeting) at Waitangi for the chiefs to sign the Declaration. He along with Henry Williams and William Colenso drafted the declaration. Māori had no say in the document. The Declaration of Independence was closely followed by the Treaty of Waitangi.

NZHistory

This is a good website to get a first hand understanding on what the Declaration was about and what it meant for Māori.

  • Search ‘Declaration of Independence’ in the search box.
  • On the page of results you will find an image of the Declaration which includes transcripts of the Māori and English versions.
  • You will also find a link to the United Tribes Flag or New Zealand’s first official flag.
  • The article Declaration of Independence lists some of the reasons why the Declaration was signed, reactions, interpretations and how it was put into practice.
  • The link Introduction has a timeline leading up the Declaration of Independence and the Treaty of Waitangi.
Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

Te Ara

Te Ara, the Encyclopedia of New Zealand is filled with rich knowledge on historical events such as the Declaration of Independence.

  • Scroll down to the page to Sections and select Government and Nation, then Te Tiriti – the Treaty.
  • Here you will find the link to He Whakaputanga - Declaration of Independence.
  • This page leads to information on the background of the Declaration, it’s contents and the aftermath.

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we scroll down to the bottom of the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

Tips: ‘External links and sources’ that appears at the end of most articles on Te Ara is always a good way to explore related material on your topic.

The Ministry of Justice

This government ministry leads New Zealand on matters of justice. It’s website has links to important documents such as The Declaration and the Treaty. Type ‘Declaration of Independence’ into the search box. There are two links worth exploring here.

Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.

Bridget Williams Books

The Bridget Williams Books (BWB) is a collection of digitised books on the Treaty of Waitangi. BWB is a part of EPIC, a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. It’s put together especially for New Zealand school students and helps to answer questions like this.

Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6 pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

What the Declaration achieved

A few countries recognised He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga - The Declaration of Independence. Over the years there have been discussions and interpretations on what the declaration actually achieved for Māori, and whether or not sovereignty was handed over as a result of the later signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Archives New Zealand - Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga

Guardians of New Zealand’s public archives, this government agency ensures that records of value are available to the public.

  • Type search words ‘Declaration Independence’ into Search Archives New Zealand.
  • Click on the first link Declaration of Independence. This page tells you about the countries that recognised the declaration and what it meant to the British.
  • It’s also worth reading the paragraph Life of the Document to understand how this document was saved and where it can be viewed now.
Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

Māori Law Review

This website publishes monthly reviews of law affecting Māori. Reviews have been catalogued according to issues. There are two interesting reviews about the Declaration of Independence in light of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.

National Committee of New Zealand - Te Komiti o Aotearoa

UNESCO launched the Memory of the World programme in 1992. This site is part of the New Zealand Memory of the World Programme. It’s vision is to protect, preserve, recognise and make available heritage documents to the world.

  1. Type 'He Whakaputanga' or 'Declaration of Independence' into the search box.
  2. You will find a link to He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni .
  3. Here you will find who signed the Declaration and who officially recognised this document when it was first signed.
Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.

The Declaration today

There continues to be some debate about what the Declaration means for Aotearoa New Zealand now, and what it will mean in the future.

New Zealand Geographic Archive

New Zealand Geographic Archive is a part of EPIC, a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. It’s put together especially for New Zealand school students and helps to answer questions like this.

  • Type the words ‘Declaration of Independence’ into the search area and select the link A Sovereign Act .
  • This article is based on Ngapuhi’s more current view on whether or not sovereignty was surrendered by Māori in the Treaty of Waitangi, and if the Declaration was actually more important.
Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6 pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

Human Rights Commission

The Human Rights Commission was set up in 1977 in New Zealand. It works under the Human Rights Act of 1993 to promote and protect the rights of people in our country.

  • Use search words ‘Declaration of Independence’ to find an article on The Declaration of Independence of New Zealand.
  • You will read here that in 2010 the New Zealand Government adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.

He Tohu

He Tohu meaning ‘the signs’ is a permanent exhibition of three iconic documents that shaped New Zealand. It provides free public access to:

  • 1835 He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni - Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand
  • 1840 Te Tiriti o Waitangi - Treaty of Waitangi
  • 1893 Women’s Suffrage Petition - Te Petihana Whakamana Pōti Wahine

The exhibition has been created in partnership between Crown and Māori. Students visiting the exhibition can choose from three programmes designed for students from Year 5 to 10.

Tips: A website’s address (URL) can give you a hint about how reliable it is. Look for addresses in the results that include .govt or .edu in the URL. These are quality sites from national or overseas government or educational organisations.

Books

There are only a few books written for students on He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni – Declaration of Independence, as most books focus on the Treaty of Waitangi.

Here are two recommended books - check out your local public or school library to see what they have.

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