Story: Constitution

The Declaration of Independence, 1835

Between 1835 and 1839 a document called the Declaration of Independence was signed by Māori chiefs, mainly in Northland. It was drawn up by official British Resident James Busby, after rumours emerged that Frenchman Charles de Thierry was coming to New Zealand to set himself up as a sovereign leader. This concerned both Busby and the chiefs.

This is the Māori version of the declaration, which is the version that was signed. (There was also an English translation.) The declaration contains four sections: the first proclaimed the Independent State of the United Tribes of New Zealand, the second stated that sovereign power resided in the chiefs alone, the third said that the chiefs would meet yearly to pass laws and the fourth asked the King of England to protect the state from any threats to its independence.

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How to cite this page:

Matthew Palmer, 'Constitution - Constitutional relationships between the Crown and Māori', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 23 September 2020)

Story by Matthew Palmer, published 20 Jun 2012