The Littlewood Treaty, The True English Text of the Treaty of Waitangi, Found
by Martin Doutré.

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 18


John Littlewood had to stay eternally vigilant and involve himself in several skirmishes in order to force the authorities to place the Littlewood Treaty document, found amongst family estate papers, on public display. Although it was located in 1989 and handed to the National Archives in 1992, it was withheld from permanent public view until the year 2000, after John Littlewood forced the issue by appeals to Members of Parliament.

Although the Littlewood Treaty is, without doubt, the final English draft of the Treaty of Waitangi and the document handed to Henry Williams for translation into the Maori language at 4 p.m. on the 4th of February 1840, that fact is still kept muted and shrouded in secrecy. When one passes by the glass cabinet of the darkened down Constitution Room at the National Archives, wherein the Littlewood Treaty document reposes face up, the tattered old piece of paper hardly rates more than a cursory glance. The second side of the Littlewood Treaty sheet, which bears the all-important date of its creation on the 4th of February 1840, lies face down and conveniently hidden out of sight, out of mind and out of harm’s way. The manner in which the Littlewood Treaty is displayed keeps it, as well as any overly alert or historically informed treaty researchers, in the dark.
Beside the inconspicuous, seemingly inconsequential document sits a clinically sterile caption telling us:

PABN, 6544, W5179. Contemporary copy of the Treaty of Waitangi, 1840. Transferred to Archives New Zealand by Mr. John Littlewood.

Which begs the questions:

• Why not show a photo reproduction facsimile of the second page, with the all-important date, the 4th of February 1840, at the bottom?

• Why not allow the public to see that Article II says, ‘The Queen of England confirms and guarantees to the chiefs & tribes and to all the people of New Zealand the possession [chieftainship, tino Rangitiratanga] of their land, dwellings and all their property’ [taonga]…??? The Maori version mirrors these words, so why keep the all-important Article II text, in English, face down and invisible from the public?

• Within the caption to the side of the document, why have the authorities failed to mention the very significant detail that the treaty sheet, on display before their eyes, is in the handwriting of British Resident, James Busby? He wrote the final draft on the 4th of February 1840 and this document is both in his handwriting and bears that dynamic date!

• Why do the authorities misrepresent the document under the misleading title of a ‘Contemporary copy of the Treaty of Waitangi’? The date at the end of the document shows it isn’t an after-treaty copy, but the final pre-treaty draft. There was no Tiriti O Waitangi in existence until the 5th of February 1840, so the Littlewood Treaty, bearing the date of the day before, can’t be a back-translation of the Maori copy. Neither can it be an earlier rough draft that preceded Busby’s 3rd of February 1840, incomplete draft submission to Hobson.

Far from informing the public that they’re viewing the all-important, final English draft of the Treaty of Waitangi, handed to Reverend Henry Williams at 4 p.m. on the 4th of February 1840 for translation into the Maori language, a treaty commentator has used the display to promote personal viewpoints. Above the Littlewood Treaty document a large explanatory caption almost defensively and rather gratingly blurts out:


British settlement and control of New Zealand legitimised on the grounds that Maori signatories had ceded sovereignty to the Crown. However in the Maori language version of the Treaty the notion of ‘sovereignty’ was expressed as ‘Kawanatanga’, a term derived from the word Kawana (Governor). Neither Kawanatanga nor Kawana carried the connotations of absolute authority which were central to nineteenth century European understandings of sovereignty. ‘Tino Rangitiratanga approximates, more closely to sovereignty than ‘Kawanatanga’, but the second article of the treaty guaranteed this power to the Maori signatories, not the crown.

This poorly worded, politically slanted caption seems to have been produced by someone who has no knowledge of what Te Tiriti O Waitangi actually says. In fact, what he or she has concluded utterly misrepresents what the ‘second article’ of the treaty clearly states:

In Article II the ‘Tino Rangitiratanga’ referred to is available to ‘the chiefs & tribes AND TO ALL THE PEOPLE OF NEW ZEALAND’… ‘ki nga Rangatira ki nga hapu-KI NGA TANGATA KATOA O NU TIRANI’.

The author of this propaganda laced caption is invited to read the Littlewood Treaty English document that sits very close nearby, or indeed the official Maori Treaty version derived therefrom, sitting diagonally adjacent in another case. For the past thirty years uninformed activists of this ilk have severely distorted our treaty and transformed it into something its authors never intended it to be.

It is claimed that Reverend Henry Williams, in his (purported) gross ineptitude and a poor understanding of the Maori language, used an utterly inadequate word (kawanatanga - governorship) to translate the concept of sovereignty, as understood by the British. By this (claimed) unfortunate mistake, we’re told, sovereignty remained steadfastly in the possession of the chiefs and the British ended up with little more than a right to some governance. According to some of our present-day social historians, Reverend Williams should have clearly stipulated that the chiefs were required to cede their ‘mana’ to Queen Victoria. In reference to this untenable, assertion a correspondent to Investigate Magazine wrote:

‘To use ‘mana’ to translate ‘sovereignty’ would make no sense in any case. Williams’ intimacy with Maori social practice, if not the deeper aspects of language, meant that he knew mana was the essence of a chief’s dignity - both as a descendent of great ancestors or in terms of courageous deeds. This is not something that could be ceded to the Queen of England and it is not something that the British Queen or officials or missionaries expected to be ceded. Claudia Orange agrees that mana was not the right word, as ‘rangitiratanga and kawanatanga each has its own mana’. A chief’s mana was the exercise of his rangitiratanga, his chieftainship. This the chiefs were retaining, and the missionaries wanted them to retain, under the Treaty. But the chiefs also appreciated the mana of the British Queen. They gave to her and her government the right and authority to establish instruments of law and regulation on New Zealand shores’ (see Investigate Magazine, letter from Samuel Carpenter, Onehunga).

In commenting on Dr. Paul Moon’s analysis of what a ‘proper translation’ by Reverend Williams should have produced, another correspondent wrote:

‘Secondly, his support for the assertion that Maori Christians would have understood a kawana (governor) to be inferior to a rangitira (chief) because, in the Maori New Testament, kawana Pilate was subject to rangitira Caesar. Has he not read the rest of the book, and learned how Pilate the kawana wielded absolute authority over the elders, chief priests and leaders (in Maori, kaumatua, tohunga nui and rangitira) of the Jews, even unto death? Any Maori Christian would well have understood the concept of kawanatanga, governorship: that is, that Hobson, under Queen Victoria, would hold full authority over Maori chiefs’ (see Investigate Magazine, Nov. 2004, letter from Roger Evans, Kerikeri).

The caption that sits above the Littlewood Treaty document in the Constitution Room display case also mentions how the rights, enshrined within the Treaty of Waitangi, are exclusively for the Maori signatories. According to what some people want us to believe, any time the term, ‘all the people of New Zealand’ is mentioned it refers only to Maori, and the settlers are not included within the confines of the phrase. This line of argument, unsurprisingly, is adhered to by Dr. Paul Moon, who wrote the following to Investigate Magazine in February 2004:

‘Second, the claim is made in the article that the phrase ‘all the people of New Zealand’ was surreptitiously written out of the Treaty. This is based upon two incorrect assumptions: that someone deliberately removed phrases from the Treaty - for which there is no evidence at all; and that this particular phrase should be interpreted as having applied to every person living in New Zealand in 1840 - both Maori and European. This latter postulation is demonstrably wrong. The phrase ‘all the people of New Zealand - in the setting of New Zealand in 1840, would simply be another way of referring to Maori. There are several documents from this era in which this sort of phrase is used specifically to refer exclusively to Maori. It does not apply to Europeans, who are nearly always referred to in this period separately from ‘the people of New Zealand’.*

*Footnote: In pre-colonial times, Maori were often referred to as “The New Zealanders” (a term not found in the Treaty of Waitangi text). By the 1840’s, with such a large European population in New Zealand (over 2000), the term, “the people of New Zealand”, was used to describe the amalgamation and mélange of all ethnicities living in the country.

Any way one wants to look at it, in recent decades the inherent rights and protections of non-Maori New Zealanders, under the Treaty of Waitangi, have been removed. The, now meaningless, words are still there in Te Tiriti O Waitangi, but have been pushed into the background and rendered ineffective. A substitute Article II text, from an early, superseded English rough draft, has been inserted and empowered in the place of Article II of Te Tiriti O Waitangi. By this sleight of hand trick, non-Maori New Zealanders have been ‘surreptitiously written out of the Treaty.’

Dr. Paul Moon seemingly seeks to interpret the thinking and intention of Captain William Hobson, who had travelled halfway around the world to fulfil a commission for Queen Victoria. Are we to believe that, in setting up a British colony, where sovereignty over the country and its people was to be ceded to Queen Victoria, the European settlers or family of the Queen were not to be included? The British knew what a British colony was, as they’d set up several of them. The Maoris knew what a British colony was, as many Maori people had visited Britain or Australia and received formal educations in both those locations. A number of Maori were living permanently in Australia, while still others were commuting back and forth as crew on ships and bringing descriptive reports to their chiefs.

Let’s look in greater depth at what Captain William Hobson was trying to say in the Treaty of Waitangi final draft and how Reverend Henry Williams was trying to convey crystal-clear understandings of Hobson’s intent through each section of Te Tiriti O Waitangi:

• In the Preamble section of the final English draft, Hobson addresses the ‘chiefs and people of New Zealand’. Reverend Henry Williams translated this as ‘ki nga Rangitira me nga Hapu o Nu Tirani’ or the chiefs and families of New Zealand. The Preamble sets the stage for the rest of the treaty and explains why Hobson has been sent. In content it is directed towards the sovereign chiefs and their tribes people and asks them to consider ceding sovereignty to Queen Victoria under the conditions that are described in the Articles that follow.

• In Article III of the final English draft, Hobson again uses the phrase ‘the people of New Zealand’. Reverend Henry Williams translated this as ‘nga tangata Maori katoa o Nu Tirani’ or all the Maoris of New Zealand. In this Article the content is directed at Maori, as they are being told they will become British subjects and receive the same rights as all the people of Britain.

• In Article II of the final English draft Hobson uses the phrase, ‘to the chiefs and tribes and to all the people of New Zealand’. This is a very general Article, directed towards all of the inhabitants of New Zealand, Maori and settlers alike. It guarantees to everyone that private property and goods will remain with the owners under the new regime and will not be forfeited to the Queen. Reverend Henry Williams translated this phrase as ‘ki nga Rangitira, ki nga hapu, ki nga tangata katoa o Nu Tirani’. In so doing he, very carefully, made the distinction to include Rangitira (Maori chiefs), Hapu (Maori families) and all the people of New Zealand (Maori individuals or settlers from all nations, living in New Zealand or any ‘arriving’ later). If Williams had wished to state that the rights mentioned in Article II were exclusively for Maori, then he would have used the terminology of Article III, ‘nga tangata Maori katoa o Nu Tirani’.

Some grievance industry advocates try to argue that Article II relates solely and exclusively to Maori, on the basis of a response letter sent by Reverend Henry Williams to Bishop Selwyn on the 12th of July 1847. Williams was called upon to comment concerning the legality, under the Treaty of Waitangi, of a move by Governor George Grey, K.B.C., to take the vast acreages of unoccupied lands of New Zealand into the ownership of the Crown. Governor Grey advocated such a move in the Charter of 1846.
In his response to Bishop Selwyn, Williams was commenting about what he had explained the Treaty to mean to the Maori people in 1840, based upon the generalised discussion and concepts of the drafters at the time:

"...As I did explain the nature of the treaty in 1840, I must continue to explain, in self defence; for I must not be accessory to such deception, but continue to stand upon the treaty alone. ...My view of the Treaty of Waitangi is, as it ever was, that it was the Magna Charta of the aborigines of New Zealand. Your Lordship has requested information in writing of what I explained to the natives, and how they understood it. I confined myself solely to the tenor of the treaty:

That the Queen had kind wishes towards the chiefs and people of New Zealand,
And was desirous to protect them in their rights as chiefs, and rights of property,
And that the Queen was desirous that a lasting peace and good understanding should be preserved with them.

That the Queen had thought it desirable to send a Chief as a regulator of affairs with the natives of New Zealand.

That the native chiefs should admit the Government of the Queen throughout the country, from the circumstance that numbers of her subjects are residing in the country, and are coming hither from Europe and New South Wales.

That the Queen is desirous to establish a settled government, to prevent evil occurring to the natives and Europeans who are now residing in New Zealand without law.

That the Queen therefore proposes to the chiefs these following articles:
Firstly, - The chiefs shall surrender to the Queen for ever the Government of the country, for the preservation of order and peace.
Secondly, - The Queen of England confirms and guarantees to the chiefs and tribes, and to each individual native, their full rights as chiefs, their rights of possession of their lands, and all their other property of every kind and degree. The chiefs wishing to sell any portion of their lands, shall give to the Queen the right of pre-emption of their lands.
Thirdly - That the Queen, in consideration of the above, will protect the natives of New Zealand, and will impart to them all the rights and privileges of British subjects.

The instruction of Captain Hobson was, "not to allow any one to sign the treaty till he fully understood it;" to which instruction I did most strictly attend. I explained the treaty clause by clause at the signing of the same, and again to all the natives in this part of the island previously to the destruction of Kororareka, on March 11, 1845; I maintained the faith of the treaty and the integrity of the British Government, and that the word of Her Majesty was sacred, and could not be violated.
That the natives to whom I explained the treaty understood the nature of the same, there can be no doubt; ..." (see The Life of Henry Williams, Archdeacon of Waimate, by Hugh Carleton, pp 153-157, by Wilson & Horton, Auckland, 1877.

As Head of the C.M.S. Mission and in his official capacity as the translator of the treaty into the Maori language in 1840, Williams’ latter era comments to Selwyn in 1847 were devoted to explaining his understanding of the Maori perspective, including what the treaty meant for Maori individuals. He was not, in this instance, called upon to explain what the treaty meant to the settlers, which aspect was equally as valid and binding.

The treaty was, indeed, the Magna Charta of Maori individuals, especially those of lower rank or slave class within the tribal caste system. It gave many of them substantial rights, often for the very first time.

Ngai-Tahu historian, Jean Jackson states matter-of -factly that British intervention, eventually, stopped the rampant practices of ‘Utu’ (revenge) and ‘Muru’ (plunder), decisions by divination, sacrifice to appease gods, construction sacrifice [placing slaves beneath the foundation poles of meeting houses], religious cannibalism, slaves penned for cannibal consumption, slaves penned for labour, slave castration, manhood ritual tattooing, circumcision, abduction of women and children, raping of enemy women, etc. (See: Maori Chiefs Asked For Queen Victoria’s Laws, Book 9, pg. 161, Bracken Woods Projects Limited, P.O. Box 6411, Wellesley St., Auckland, N.Z. ISBN 0-476-01344-5).

The treaty, eventually, freed the slaves, although for some individuals, like the Moriori of the Chathams, that freedom came so late that their diminished gene pool left them on the brink of extinction, as a unique racial grouping.

As stated, the Maori Tiriti O Waitangi is never used nowadays and has been deliberately rendered a legislative nonentity. It’s only there for show or as a photogenic prop, to give the false illusion that its content is somehow being referred to and upheld in law. In truth it is utterly ignored and has been dumped as our treaty, despite the fact that Hobson said that the Maori version was ‘de facto’ the treaty…or the only Treaty of Waitangi that exists.

One would think it a fairly basic premise that, when the British wrote the treaty 165-years ago, they fully intended to include the rights of British or other settlers in the clauses. Despite such rudimentary and easy to grasp logic, advocates of the treaty grievance industry aggressively try to lure us into believing that the, otherwise, crystal-clear wording of the treaty means something altogether different and is, in fact, a formula for apartheid.

So, did the chiefs know what they were doing in 1840 by signing the treaty and ceding sovereignty to Queen Victoria?

One has only to read the speeches, both for and against, of the chiefs at Waitangi to realise that they understood the full implications of what they were doing. Several chiefs, who were affiliated with and influenced by the Catholic Bishop, Pompallier, spoke of being delivered into a state of ‘slavery’ the moment they signed away their sovereignty.

Reverend Henry Williams wrote: ‘There was considerable excitement amongst the people, greatly increased by the irritating language of the ill-disposed Europeans, stating to the chiefs in the most insulting language, that their country was gone, and they now were only taurekareka (slaves). Many came to us to speak upon this new state of affairs. We gave them but one version, explaining clause by clause, showing the advantages to them of being taken under the fostering care of the British Government, by which act they would become one people with the British, in suppression of wars, and of every lawless act, under one Sovereignty, and one law, human and divine’.

The Reverend John Warren wrote in 1863: ‘I was present at the great meeting at Waitangi when the celebrated treaty was signed, and also at a meeting which took place subsequently on the same subject at Hokianga. There was a great deal of talk by the natives, principally on the subject of securing their proprietary right in the land, and their personal liberty. Everything else they were only too happy to yield to the Queen, as they said repeatedly, because they knew they could only be saved from the rule of other nations by sitting under the shadow of the Queen of England. In my hearing they frequently remarked, "Let us be one people. We had the gospel from England, let us have the law from England."
My impression at the time was that the natives perfectly understood that by signing the treaty they became British subjects, and though I lived amongst them more than fifteen years after that event, and often conversed with them on the subject, I never saw the slightest reason to change my opinion. The natives were at the time in mortal fear of the French, and justly thought they had done a pretty good stroke of business when they placed the British lion between themselves and the French eagle...’ (see, The Treaty of Waitangi, by T.L. Buick pp. 281-282).

This impression of attitudes displayed, as mentioned by Reverend Warren, is further substantiated by the speeches made by many of New Zealand’s paramount chiefs at the Kohimarama conference of July 1860.

It is very evident that the 540 chiefs who signed the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 had weighed in the balance future prospects for their people and saw this as the best or only practical course of action. To say that the signed only for a blanket "koha" is to diminish their reputations or dignity. For the most part, the chiefs were very astute and shrewd people who assessed situations deeply after consultation, before making an informed decision. Upwards of 60,000 of their people had been killed, maimed or enslaved during the Musket Wars. Now the French were making moves to annex New Zealand.