The Littlewood Treaty, The True English Text of the Treaty of Waitangi, Found

Chapter: Précis 1 2 3 4 5a,5b,5c,5d,5e 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Lord Normanby's Brief

Chapter 15


On the 27th of September 2004, Associate Minister of Justice, Margaret Wilson, responded to Mr. Sid Wilson’s Official Information request to supply:

“…any and all documentation that either proves or indicates that the document that has come to be known as the “Littlewood Treaty”, is not in fact written by the hand of Busby, and that the date written by Busby’s hand on the same document, is incorrect,”

The Hon. Margaret Wilson responded in behalf of all 120 Members of Parliament by saying:

‘I first note that the Government has not needed to prove or disprove the writer or date of the document you refer to, as the constitutional status of the document is not in question. A written treaty, like a treaty contract, has no validity unless signed by both parties. The "Littlewood" Treaty was not signed.

The English text of the Treaty of Waitangi that forms Schedule One of the Treaty of Waitangi Act, 1975 is the same as the text signed by Mäori at both Waikato Heads and Manukau in March and April of 1840. My understanding is that this was the only English version of the Treaty signed by Maori. This text is the official English text of the Treaty, and has been interpreted and applied by the Courts and the Waitangi Tribunal. While the "Littlewood Treaty" may be of historical interest, it has no official status’.

Our, once, Associate Minister of Justice and, formerly, Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, for years made multi-million dollar payouts based upon her legal and historical understanding of the treaty. Despite being a qualified historian, she does not, by her above comments, realise that no chiefs of either Waikato Heads or Manukau signed the English document in ‘March’ 1840. The Hon. Margaret Wilson is making the same mistake as other mainstream treaty historians in assuming that William Cornwallis Symonds carried the English copy to Manukau from the Bay of Islands, in March 1840. They then assume it was carried, by Symonds, from there to Port Waikato in early April 1840.

It wasn’t, as the only government document ever issued for signing at Manukau in ‘March’, was the handwritten Maori one, now known as the Kawhia Treaty. Neither the Hon. Margaret Wilson or any other historian can show us one Maori chieftain’s signature on the English copy that was affixed thereon in ‘March’ 1840.

It is only by understanding the true nature and status of each individual piece of paper, of which there were 3 sheets in 2 separate sets, that a correct historical comprehension of what happened in the Manukau-Port Waikato districts can be realised. The first document, a single piece of paper, handwritten wholly in Maori (government issued), was used between Manukau-Kawhia. The second set, composed of two make-do pieces of paper, pressed into service out of necessity by Maunsell, was used between Port Waikato-Manukau.

According to present day, legalese logic, all European settler rights, accrued by treaty in other districts beyond Port Waikato prior to or after 11th April 1840, were extinguished the moment this mistakenly used English version received a signature. At the same time, exclusive Maori customary rights became a reality. No such customary rights exist in the Maori language version of the treaty, nor in the final English draft, where all rights spoken of are inherent and available ‘to all the people of New Zealand’ simultaneously. Let’s ask a few legal questions to the New Zealand Government:

• Why did the Waikato Heads English text wording supplant and replace the Maori Tiriti O Waitangi wording as our official treaty text in 1975 with the introduction of the Treaty of Waitangi Act?

• Why did you write the descendants of the European settlers and all non-Maori out of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1975 and accord Maori special customary rights, denied to all other New Zealanders, when the Maori Tiriti O Waitangi (which is the only contract wording) guarantees equal rights for all the people of New Zealand without exception?

• Why did you not consult a literal back-translation of the Maori Tiriti O Waitangi, free from legalese add-ons, before voting the very defective and incorrect Waikato Heads English version of the treaty into law, in 1975, to replace our solitary, real treaty (Te Tiriti O Waitangi)?

• Why did you not consult James Reddy Clendon’s 20th of February, despatch No. 6 version to the United States, after your top government historian, Ian Wards, had told you that James Reddy Clendon had helped to write the English draft of the treaty?

• Why did you not access Commodore Charles Wilkes’ 5th of April, despatch No. 64 version from the American National Archives, knowing that U.S Consul, J.R. Clendon had, by that time, applied for and received the official English version from Hobson, which he was then able to make available to Wilkes?

• Why is it that no government historian accessed the U.S.S Vincennes’ letter book record of Wilkes’ despatch number 64, when photos of the document originals are easily sourced on Microfilm 1262, University of Auckland Library pp. 142-145 & 163-168). The original Wilkes’ Papers are held at, The Kansas Historical Society, Topeka, Kansas, U.S.A., and the microfilm reproduction of them was made in 1953.

• Did you not know that Busby wrote the final English draft of the treaty on the 4th of February 1840 and that it perfectly mirrors the Maori wording in Te Tiriti O Waitangi, whereas the "official" English version is very different to the Maori version?

• Why do you now state ‘that the Government has not needed to prove or disprove the writer or date’ of the Littlewood Treaty, when this was promised to the Littlewood family in 1989 and to all the people of New Zealand in 1992?

• Why will you not openly admit to the public of New Zealand that the Littlewood Treaty document is positively written in the handwriting of James Busby, is dated the 4th of February 1840 and fits all of the criteria of the final English "lost draft", sought after by our historians since 1840.

• Why, when the Littlewood Treaty document was rediscovered in 1989, did you not undertake a major review of your very mistaken 1975 legislation?

• With the weight of evidence proving that the Littlewood Treaty is the final English draft and the mother document of Te Tiriti O Waitangi, why are you so reluctant to discuss the matter in an open public arena?

• Knowing as you do that the final English draft was lost, why do you promote the Waikato Heads version as the final draft English wording of the treaty and absurdly suggest that Reverend Henry Williams, somehow, made this utterly different text translate into Te Tiriti O Waitangi wording?

William Cornwallis Symonds, continued:

The official document, brought by W.C. Symonds, which had arrived too late for Reverend Maunsell’s meeting, was forwarded on, by Maunsell, to Reverend John Whiteley, further to the south at Kawhia. To see this official document that Maunsell was, technically, supposed to use, we need only view Reverend Whiteley’s document to which the last signature was added on September 3rd 1840.

Captain W.C. Symonds started heading south in an attempt to add more signatures to Maunsell’s make-do treaty documents (composed of a C.M.S. Mission printed Maori treaty sheet and the other defective English sheet with sufficient space available to accommodate signatures). He had missed attending Maunsell’s very successful meeting at Waikato Heads, for which he’d brought the official document. That document had been left with Maunsell for direct despatch, by messenger, to Reverend Whiteley at the Kawhia Mission Station. Symonds, it would seem, was going to take a circuitous route to acquire yet more signatures in the district, then meet up with Reverend Whiteley later and take all signatures acquired, on all 3 documents, back to Government House in Russell. For his own signature gathering incentive, before meeting up with Reverend Whiteley at Kawhia, Symonds would, for the first time, use Maunsell’s make-do documents, bearing the signatures that Maunsell and Ashwell had acquired at Waikato Heads on April 11th 1840.

Shortly after leaving Reverend Maunsell, however, Symonds took time to look closely at the signatures that Maunsell had acquired, undoubtedly in an effort to plan his itinerary and movements. Upon examination he could see from the 5 signatures on the Maori copy and the 32 signatures overflowing onto the English sheet, that all the primary chiefs, except a few from Kawhia area, had already signed the treaty. Reverend John Whiteley and his assistant, James Wallis, could acquire these few missing signatures, without his participation. Symonds decided, therefore, to venture no further south, but to attempt, once more, to convince the chiefs at Manukau to add their signatures (some of which had been promised) and especially Paramount Chief, Te Wherowhero. William Symonds, consequently, sent a letter on to Reverend Whiteley, informing him that he was not now coming, and asking him to proceed in the signature gathering incentive without him. Maunsell had already despatched the official treaty document southward to Reverend Whiteley by messenger, expecting that all documents and letters would come together when Symonds finally reached the mission station there at Kawhia.

Unbeknown to Maunsell, when he wrote his report to Hobson, Symonds would later decide to return for a third try at getting signatures at Manukau and not go south to Kawhia as expected. Three earlier acquired Ngati Whatua signatures, from the second meeting at Manukau, were on the official document, now in the possession of Reverend John Whiteley in Kawhia. Symonds, without access to that document, would, as stated, use Maunsell’s unofficial make-do documents, bearing the many signatures that Reverend Robert Maunsell and his assistant, Benjamin Yate Ashwell had acquired at Waikato Heads on the 11th of April. This impressive list would, most assuredly, have some influence on the reluctant chiefs at Manukau. Maunsell, sent a letter with Symonds, addressed to Hobson, which said:
‘You will, I trust, receive with this [letter despatched with Symonds] the document lately forwarded to me to have the signatures of the principal men in Waikato attached to it. I am happy to inform you that the signatures obtained [on the alternative, make-do documents] comprise those of the leading men, except perhaps two. Those we hope soon to obtain, and I have already forwarded on to Messrs Wallis and Whiteley the document left with me by Captain Symonds [the one Maunsell was supposed to use...the official government issued document] in order that they may obtain as many more names as they deem expedient’.

On May 12th, 1840, Captain W.C. Symonds reported: ‘On examination of the signatures obtained by Mr. Maunsell, I found that with the exception of very few, all the leading men of the country as far as Mokau had acknowledged the sovereignty of Her Majesty. The few belonged to the neighbourhood of Aotea and Kawhia, wherefore I determined proceeding myself no further, being well assured of the disposition on the part of the Wesleyan Mission to support the Government in every exertion in its power, and I sent a letter to the Rev. John Whiteley claiming his assistance in procuring the remaining names. I returned to Manukau on April 18, where I obtained the adherence of seven other chiefs to the Treaty. Te Whero-whero and several others have objected, though they manifest no ill-will to the Government (see Robert Maunsell LL.D. A New Zealand Pioneer, His life and Times, by Henry E.R.L Wily, 1938, pp 68-69).

So, it becomes very clear what had happened with the various documents:

(a) Reverend Maunsell had not been able to use his official document, sent to him from Government House in the Bay of Islands and signed by acting Lieutenant Governor, Willoughby Shortland, as it had arrived 3 days too late. He had used, instead, materials on hand to conduct his meeting on the 11th before 1500 Maori, conveniently gathered in for their hui business meeting. His document for the hui meeting was an authorised Maori text, printed by the Church Mission Society. Two hundred of these authorised Maori treaty text documents had been produced by Paihia Mission printer, William Colenso on February 17th.

(b) At the April 11th meeting another unauthorised piece of paper had been used in no other capacity but to receive the overflow of signatures that would not fit onto the printed Maori text document. Reverend Maunsell wrote a letter to Hobson, describing what had transpired locally and gave it to Captain William Symonds, who, supposedly, was heading southward, by a circuitous route, to eventually join up with Reverend John Whiteley at the Kawhia Mission.

(c) Captain Symonds later changed his mind en route, after looking over Maunsell’s list of signatures and deciding that his efforts should be focused on Manukau, where he’d had only moderate success, despite two meetings with the chiefs there.

(d) Symonds, unbeknown to Maunsell, returned to Manukau, this time with a different document (Maunsell’s signed, Maori printed text from the C.M.S Press and the orphan English treaty document, used only to accommodate the overflow signatures). During his third attempt at Manukau, on the 26th of April, Symonds managed to get an additional seven signatures, bringing his tally in the Manukau area to ten signatures in three meetings. Captain Symonds then took all of the signatures, affixed to the two pieces of paper used by Maunsell, Ashwell, and himself, to Hobson. The official document, which was the only one envisioned by acting Lieutenant Governor, Willoughby Shortland, to be signed in Manukau, Waikato Heads and Kawhia, came back, from Reverend John Whiteley to the Bay of Islands after September 1840.

We know full well from the May 12th report of William Cornwallis Symonds that he was talking about the printed Maori document being used for the presentation at Waikato Heads, as well as his 3rd attempt at Manukau, with the English copy being used solely to accommodate the overflow signatures obtained. Symonds writes:
‘I have the honour to submit to you for the information of His Excellency, the Lieutenant Governor, a Report of my proceedings in the Manukau and Waikato districts in my late mission to obtain the adherence of the Principal Chiefs on the West Coast of this Island to the Waitangi Treaty and herewith - transmit to you a Copy of the Treaty signed by upwards of Forty of the more influential Chiefs of that part of the Country’. Underlining added.

Symonds is stating that the signed treaty he is submitting contains ‘over forty’ signatures. The actual tally is:

The orphan English copy has 32 signatures obtained by Maunsell on the 11th of April 1840 (at Waikato Heads) and another 7 signatures obtained by Symonds at Manukau (third attempt there) on the 26th of April 1840 = 39. The printed Maori copy, read to the assemblies at both gatherings, contains the very first of the 5 chiefly signatures obtained at Waikato Heads on April 11th by Reverend Maunsell, bringing the final total to 44.

If we then include the 3 Ngati-whatua signatures that William C. Symonds acquired in Manukau on the 20th of March 1840 (his 2nd meeting there), which were recorded upon the official government issued, Maori language document, pre-signed by Willoughby Shortland, then the full tally for the Manukau and Port Waikato districts is 47.

Historian Claudia Orange, in her website, wrote:

‘The names of the Waikato chiefs on this sheet [printed C.M.S treaty] were witnessed by Robert Maunsell, but there is no indication of the date or place of signing. The chiefs were possibly visiting Maunsell’s mission at the Waikato river mouth. Ngati Pou lived on the east and west banks of the river further upstream; Ngati Te Wehi were at Raglan. Some uncertainty surrounds this sheet as far as its date of printing [signing?]. It seems highly likely, however, that it was dispatched with the English treaty copy sent to Maunsell to enable him better to explain the terms of the treaty’. Underlining added.

Some of these statements seem unnecessarily vague, poorly researched and almost evasive. The only government issued document ‘sent’ to Maunsell was a handwritten Maori language one, authored by Freeman under Shortland’s direction and carried overland or via waterways by Symonds, commencing on the 13th of March 1840.
Reverend William Colenso, who had printed 200 Maori treaty sheets on the 17th of February, sent a consignment of goods to Maunsell on March 4th 1840 with Captain Gordon Brown. It’s glaringly obvious that this is how Maunsell received the printed Maori Treaty. The defective English one appears to have been someone’s souvenir; disposed of at the Waitemata by Freeman. There’s no way Maunsell would have made any form of presentation of Te Tiriti O Waitangi, as he was obliged to do, without having on hand Te Tiriti O Waitangi text!

William Symonds, who tried on three occasions to get signatures from the chiefs at Manukau, well understood the importance of unfaltering and strong oratory before the Maori assemblies. On two occasions he had the very adept assistant and much-respected orator, James Hamlin to help him. At the 3rd Manukau meeting James Hamlin was absent on the day, having travelled to another mission. Symonds later lamented:

‘I obtained the adherence of seven other chiefs to the Treaty. Te Wera-Wera and several others, however, objected.... This I attribute partly to the Bishop’s [Pompallier’s] influence, partly to the extreme pride of the Native chiefs, and in great measure to my being alone and unable to make that display and parade which exerts such influence on the minds of the savages’ (see W.C. Symonds’ letter to the Colonial Secretary, 12 May 1840. Great Britain Parliamentary Papers 1841 (311) XVII pp. 101-2).

Reverend Robert Maunsell, a lettered scholar and linguist, was personally engaged in translating the Old Testament of the Bible into the Maori language at the time he made his treaty presentation to 1500 Maori at Waikato Heads. Of Maunsell’s meeting, T.L. Buick writes:
‘The project had been received by the natives in the most friendly spirit, and signatures had been obtained with the utmost alacrity’ (see The Treaty of Waitangi, by T.L. Buick, pg. 189).

Some years later, in 1845, Rev. Maunsell wrote the following during a time of conflict:
‘Whether that Treaty was a ‘fiction’ or not, this is no fiction, that the Government stands pledged to secure certain rights to the Aborigines, & that the Aborigines were fully informed of that promise. Whether that Treaty has been attended with injurious consequences or not I do not know. This I know, that if it had not been for those stipulations the Colony could not have been established without war with the Aborigines and other more serious evils than those which at present attend it. The people may not perhaps understand all the particulars of that treaty, but we, their teachers took particular care to explain to them, as far as was necessary to allay the suspicions & jealousy with which they contemplated the movements of Government’ (see R. Maunsell to Secretaries, 23 April 1845, in ATL-Micro-MS-Coll-04-35 (CMS Archives CN/M v. 15 p. 311).

Hobson wrote to Reverend Henry Williams concerning the Maori text Williams was issued before his own treaty mission:
‘...treat with the principal native chiefs, in the southern parts of these islands, for their adherence of the treaty.... I have the honour to enclose a copy of the treaty, which I have signed; and to request you will obtain the signatures thereto of such high chiefs as may be willing to accede to its conditions, first explaining to them its principle and object, which they must clearly understand before you permit them to sign....Such presents as may be required will be put on board and placed at your disposal’ (see Hobson’s letter to Reverend Henry Williams, 23rd of March 1840, MS 91/75, Auckland Institute & Museum Library).

The chiefs, who always heard the treaty presentation in their own tongue, understood perfectly that they were ceding Sovereignty to Queen Victoria and becoming British subjects. The only area within the wording of the treaty, where the missionaries were concerned that the chiefs might not understand the full implications of what they had agreed to, related to selling their land directly to the Queen’s representative and having no right to sell it directly to the settlers.
This was of particular concern to Reverend William Colenso, who impressed the problem, with considerable force, upon the mind of Hobson on the 6th of February 1840:
‘The correctness of Colenso’s fears that the natives did not understand the implications and effect of a provision of the Treaty conferring on the Crown the right of pre-emption are substantiated by the natives subsequent dissatisfaction with this clause, which later had to be waived by Hobson in favour of the New Zealand Company and also by Governor Fitzroy. The failure of the Crown to exercise its right of pre-emption [exclusive right of purchase], thereby preventing the natives from selling sufficient land to satisfy their desire for European products became a source of grievance and was a contributing factor to the outbreak of Heke’s rebellion’ (see William Colenso, by A.G. Bagnall & G.C. Petersen, 1948, pg. 97).

In the end it was only the totality of signatures acquired at both Waikato and Manukau Heads, based upon an oral delivery of the Maori text to the assemblies, to which Hobson later affixed his seal, legitimising the signatures. Hobson, thereby, acknowledged the wishes of the chiefs at Waikato and Manukau that their stated desire to cede sovereignty to Queen Victoria was duly noted and would be implemented.

In 1840 the chiefs wove a tapestry of unification that some of their progeny now seek to unravel.
Modern-day activists are, apparently, far wiser than the 540-chiefs who carefully considered, then signed the treaty. They, therefore, feel qualified in telling us that the treaty is, in actuality, something utterly different to what all the chiefs heard, questioned and discussed, then agreed to embrace as the best course to follow for the future prospects of the country.