Te Tai – Treaty Settlement Stories

Story: Te Mana o te Reo Māori

Teacher support material: Māori is the ‘New Zealand’ language

Teacher support material

Chapter 3: 1835–1860 Māori is the ‘New Zealand’ language

The third chapter of Te Mana o te Reo Māori gives students an overview of the period that includes the signing of both He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni (the Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand) in 1835, and te Tiriti o Waitangi in 1840.

Teacher support material: Māori is the ‘New Zealand’ language

It describes the slow decline of Māori political power, the Māori population, and use of te reo Māori. These changes occurred against a backdrop of social, political and cultural shifts that significantly impacted the history of Māori language.

Te Mana o te Reo Māori – Chapter 3

On this page, you’ll find materials to support your students as they learn about te reo Māori in the mid-nineteenth century, including key focus questions, suggested activities, and language support.


Introducing this chapter

Start with the title

How about starting with the title of the Declaration of Independence 1835? Declaring independence is a concept that can really spark students’ interest in the topic. This can lead into exploring when and why this might happen, who might want to sign a declaration of independence, how one might frame such a declaration, and other countries where this has happened.

Read te Tiriti and He Whakaputanga

Reading He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni and te Tiriti o Waitangi together as a class is a great way to introduce this chapter to your students. Copies of both documents are available online (refer to the section ‘Other resources’ below for links).

He Whakaputanga (NZHistory)

Read the Treaty (NZHistory)

Chapter 3 poster image

Painting depicting the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

The Treaty of Waitangi signing, 1840
Alexander Turnbull Library; Reference: G-821-2; Oil painting by Marcus King

The Chapter 3 poster from the picture pack He Pūkei Whakaahua o Te Mana o te Reo Māori features a modern reconstruction depicting the signing of te Tiriti o Waitangi in 1840. It shows Tāmati Wāka Nene signing te Tiriti in front of James Busby, Captain William Hobson, and other British officials and witnesses. This image also features in Chapter 3 of the digital story. The poster provides some key questions and information to introduce your students to this chapter. You can use this poster to facilitate discussions with your students about the shifts in power constructs that occurred as a result of the signing of these documents. This can be a great way to help students identify what they already know about the signing of te Tiriti o Waitangi and its impact on the history of te reo Māori.

Additional resource components

There is also further content available for students to explore this topic:

Key themes

This resource tells the history of the decline and revitalisation of te reo Māori with a focus on five themes from Te Takanga o te Wā.

Te Takanga o te Wā Māori History Guidelines Year 1–8 (Te Kete Ipurangi)

Here are some key questions that relate to each of these themes. These questions are intentionally broad so that students can explore them in multiple ways.

  • Whakapapa

    Tūpuna – Connections – Belonging – Identity – Culture – Community – Tikanga – Mana Whenua
  • Where do I fit in?
  • Did any of my ancestors sign He Whakaputanga or te Tiriti o Waitangi?
  • Tūrangawaewae

    Belonging – Identity – Culture – Community – Place – Continuity
  • Which iwi from my tūrangawaewae signed He Whakaputanga and/or te Tiriti o Waitangi?
  • Mana Motuhake

    Belonging – Identity – Mana – Controversy – Conflict – Consequences – Tino Rangatiratanga
  • Why did Māori sign te Tiriti o Waitangi?
  • Why did the Crown sign te Tiriti o Waitangi?
  • Are the English and Māori versions the same?
  • Kaitiakitanga

    Time – Context – Perspective – Knowledge – Tikanga – Guardianship
  • What rights did te Tiriti o Waitangi guarantee Māori?
  • What rights did te Tiriti o Waitangi guarantee the Crown?
  • Whanaungatanga

    Whānau – Hapū – Iwi – Whakapapa – Tūpuna – Connections – Community – Manaakitanga – Kotahitanga – Unity
  • What is an agreement or contract? What does it involve or require?
  • Why do people have agreements or contracts?
  • Can you think of some examples of different kinds of agreements or contracts? What do they look like? What can they lead to?
  • What happens if you break an agreement or contract?
  • Who decides what goes in a contract and what language it should be written in?
  • What sort of agreements or contracts have you made? Who with?

Each of these themes provides a way for learners to connect with the history of te reo Māori. Keep an eye out for these icons to see how activities and content in these resources link to each of these themes.

Activities and learning experiences

Here are some suggested activities for your students.

Activity 1: He rārangi wā – Te Mana o te Reo Māori timeline

Themes: WhakapapaKaitiakitanga

Have a look at the timeline for Te Mana o te Reo Māori on Te Tai Taiwhakaea. See what events appear in the timeline between 1835 and 1860.

Create a visual timeline showing key events that led up to the signing of te Tiriti o Waitangi. You can present your findings as:

  • a visual poster or collage
  • a written report
  • a Google Slides presentation
  • a flow diagram.

Consider the following questions:

  • What process you will use to decide what to include in your timeline?
  • Whose perspectives and voices will be reflected in your timeline?

Activity 2: Mātakitaki mai – Watch the Treaty story

Theme: Mana Motuhake

Waitangi – What Really Happened? is a seven-part series that presents a retelling of the signing of te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Waitangi – What Really Happened? (Waitangi Treaty Grounds)

Before watching each episode, formulate some questions about what you want to find out about the signing of te Tiriti o Waitangi. For example:

  • Which Queen is referred to in te Tiriti?
  • Did all Māori agree that signing te Tiriti was the right thing to do?
  • How many articles does te Tiriti have?

After you have watched all of the episodes, formulate some questions for further research – what else do you want to find out about the signing of te Tiriti o Waitangi? Identify other sources of information that you can explore to answer the research questions you have created.

Activity 3: He mahere Tiriti – A Treaty map

Theme: Whanaungatanga

Create a map of Aotearoa to show where the different versions of te Tiriti o Waitangi were taken and how many people signed it in each place. Use symbols, images, numbers and statistics to communicate the information you have found.

When you have completed your map, consider the following questions:

  • Why do you think some iwi signed te Tiriti but others did not?
  • How do you think iwi decided who would sign on their behalf?
  • Did the iwi from your tūrangawaewae sign te Tiriti?
  • Did any of your ancestors sign te Tiriti?

Activity 4: He Tiriti hou – A new Treaty

Theme: Whanaungatanga

Design a new treaty for your class or whānau. You will need to consider:

  • Why do you want a treaty?
  • Who do you want to make a treaty with? Why?
  • What would you want the treaty to include? Why?
  • Who will write the treaty?
  • Who will sign the treaty?
  • What will be the consequences if somebody breaks the promises they have made under your new treaty?
  • What will be the outcome if everyone keeps their promises they have made under your new treaty?

Language support



place of belonging

declaration, publication

Other resources

Downloads for this chapter