The Treaty of Waitangi
Signed by the British Crown and the majority of Māori chiefs in 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi aimed to hand over sovereignty to the English while protecting the rights of Māori to keep their land, forests, fisheries and treasures. Soon after the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, Britain let Aotearoa New Zealand form a representative government, and in 1854, the first Parliament met in Auckland.
There are differences between the English and te reo Māori versions of the text and not everyone agrees on when and how sovereignty passed from Māori to the Crown. What’s important to know is that today the principles of the Treaty are part of New Zealand’s law and constitution. Treaty principles include things like partnership between Māori and the Crown and a duty of the Crown to actively protect Māori.