The signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on the 6th of February 1840

The signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on the 6th of February 1840, strongly impacted the history of New Zealand even till date. Signed in the Bay of Islands, the treaty was a link between Maori and Europeans living together. The whalers violent and irrational behaviour, the missionaries who were sent by the crown, the musket wars between tribes of New Zealand and the declaration of Independence. As listed above, these events have strongly influenced the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and is established as a historically important date for New Zealand.
In 1830, the whaler were a big contributing factor towards the signing of the treaty. Almost 200 of these Maori whalers went out to sea for months at a time, hunting for sea creatures and whales, to sell. There were, however, instances where Maori whalers we treated poorly during their journeys, as most Maori whalers were assigned with steering the vessel or setting up their own hunting stations. Most stations developed in Hawke’s Bay depended heavily on Maori Labour. Despite the labour-intensive work, this created a mutual respect and equality between the Maori and Pakeha. Consequently, the Maori, in exchange gained access to goods, money and work.
When these men came ashore, most of them docked in Kororareka (Russell), the most famous port in the 1830’s. Their violent actions and drinking habits, was a concern for nearby villagers as rampages in the area, as well as trading land between villagers and whalers, were a common occurrence. Along with violence, prostitution was widely beloved among the whalers, as it was the primary industry in the Bay of Islands. An ordinary day for prostitutes would include embarking on the journey out to sea with the whalers, while performing sexual favours. In exchange for the whaler’s satisfaction, the prostitutes are usually rewarded with gowns, blankets and guns granted to the whaler yearly by British missionaries. Therefore, article one of the English version stating Maori give up complete sovereignty to Britain, would impose a drinking limit, ban disputes and prostitution.
In addition to the whalers, the British Missionaries were also another cause that led to the treaty being signed. The King of England, William IV sent four missionaries to New Zealand hoping to influence Maori in Christianity. These four men were Samuel Marsden, John King, William Hall and, Thomas Kendall. However, soon after the arrival of the missionaries, William delegated more missionaries to New Zealand. Upon arriving in New Zealand, they began teaching religion, British laws and proper education such as English, to the Maori community. Shortly after, the bond between the missionaries and Maori grew closer into a friendship.
Despite of their growing friendship, English tradesmen soon discovered the lack of education the Maori were deprived of. Using this opportunity, they took advantage of them by disadvantage trading along with selling and, forcing them into slavery after the musket wars. However, missionaries responded with imposing a treaty to protect Maori form disadvantage trading and selling, as well as slavery. Article three of the Maori version of the treaty stating the British will protect Maori, as well as having the same rights as British subjects. Article three allows the missionaries to protect the Maori from slavery and trading disadvantages and, will also provide the Maori with further education.
Another large contributing factor towards the signing of the treaty, is the musket wars. Lasting for almost a decade from 1820 to 1830, and killing over 20,000 people. The muskets were provided by English tradesmen, who in return, the Maori traded large quantities of flax and food. The Nga Pui tribe was the first tribe to gain access to these guns because of vengeance and tribal boundaries. Musket trading soon became favoured over the traditional weapon of choice, taiaha’s, muskets were owned by almost every tribe in New Zealand by 1830. With a large increase of musket trading, trade wars between the Maori and English tradesmen, the musket war eventually broke out.
As the war lasted for a decade, many tribes were forced to seek trade with Europeans, as tribes without muskets lost lives, tribal boundaries and freedom. Tribal boundaries and power changed rapidly within the decade as a result of tribes form the North Island attack the South and, the South attacking the North. This changed the population and technology of New Zealand forever. Article two and three Maori version of the treaty is essential as it specifies that Maori have full chieftainship of their lands, villages and possessions and, article three of the treaty stating British will protect Maori. This is beneficial for the Maori as it bans trade wars between Europeans and Maori, in addition to protecting and preventing Maori’s from war.
The last contributing factor in signing the treaty, is the declaration of independence. On the 28th of October 1835, the declaration of independence was signed by 34 chiefs. The declaration stated New Zealand as a sovereign and independent country. However, the declaration was mis-interpreted when the translated version was signed by the Maori. The Maori’s perception of the declaration was no foreigner could make laws in New Zealand, in addition to authority in land. This gave the Maori and Europeans equality and protecting them form being taken advantage of. Through the mis-conceptions, a treaty would be needed for Britain to get willing consent from the same number of chiefs in order to have a treaty, that super-seeded the declaration for Britain to colonise.
In conclusion, the whalers, missionaries, musket wars and the declaration of independence heavily influenced the Treaty of Waitangi to be imposed in New Zealand. As to date, this historic event is a national holiday New Zealand celebrates.