Aotearoa's founding documents
To understand government in Aotearoa and the social landscape we live in, it’s important to know some basics about Aotearoa’s founding documents:
- He Whakaputanga/the Declaration of Independence (1835). This was the first declaration of Māori nationhood on the international stage.
- Te Tiriti o Waitangi/the Treaty of Waitangi (1840). This was a formal agreement between the British Crown and many Māori rangatira about how citizens within Aotearoa were to be governed and the partnership between the Crown and Māori.
The meaning of these documents was understood differently by each party, which led to serious disagreement over who had the right to hold power in Aotearoa. The prior signing of He Whakaputanga and the differences between the te reo Māori and English language texts of te Tiriti are especially important areas of disagreement.
The Crown acted in ways that breached te Tiriti over many decades. This led to huge suffering and loss for Māori, including the loss of people’s lives, land, language, and culture. Some examples are the New Zealand Wars, the confiscation of Māori land, and the actions of the Native Land Court.