Waitangi is a township located in the Bay of Islands on the North Island of New Zealand. It is located close to the town of Paihia 60 kilometres north of Whangarei. The name means weeping waters in Maori.
Waitangi is best known for being the location where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed on 6 February 1840; however, it is also the place where the Declaration of Independence of New Zealand was signed five years prior, on 28 October 1835. This document was ratified by the British Crown the following year.
The Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi) proper began on February 5, 1840 when a public meeting was held on the grounds in front of James Busby’s residence. Lieutenant Governor Hobson read a proposed document to the 300 or so European and Maori who were in attendance and then provided the Maori chiefs an opportunity to speak. Initially, a large number of chiefs (including Te Kemara, Rewa, Moka ‘Kainga-mataa’ and others) spoke against accepting the Crown’s proposition to rule over Aotearoa. However, later in the proceedings a few chiefs began to entertain this idea; amongst the more notable chiefs to support the Crown were Te Wharerahi, Pumuka, and the two Hokianga chiefs, Tamati Waka Nene and his brother Eruera Maihi Patuone). The proceedings were ended and were to recommence on 7 February, however, a number of chiefs pressed to sign earlier. The Treaty of Waitangi was initially signed on February 6, 1840 in a marquee erected in the grounds of James Busby’s house at Waitangi by representatives of the British Crown, the chiefs of the Confederation of the United Tribes of New Zealand, and other Maori tribal leaders, and subsequently by other Maori chiefs at other places in New Zealand. Not all of the chiefs chose to sign this document, with a number of chiefs either delaying or refusing to put pen to paper.
The introduction of the Treaty effectively revoked the Declaration of Independence; making New Zealand a British colony, and the Treaty is generally considered the founding document of New Zealand as a nation. Waitangi Day is the annual celebration of the signing, and is New Zealand’s national holiday.
The Treaty House at Waitangi was first occupied by James Busby who acted as the British resident in New Zealand from 1832 until the arrival of William Hobson. In preparation for New Zealand Centenary in 1940 the Treaty House at Waitangi was restored in the 1930s, and the Meeting House Te Whare Runanga was built beside it.
Photograph of the Treaty House was taken on the 6th September 2009