Story: Kāwanatanga – Māori engagement with the state

1835 Declaration of Independence

Zoom in to read details of He Wakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga, the Declaration of the Independence of New Zealand, drafted by James Busby and signed by 35 northern chiefs at Waitangi in 1835. The chiefs who signed the declaration were not consulted over its wording. The declaration had two main purposes: to announce that New Zealand was a single nation governed by Māori chiefs, and to state that they wished the British king to continue to act as 'the parent of their infant state'. The second article of the declaration states, in the English translation, that the chiefs will not permit 'any function of government' to be exercised in New Zealand except by their consent. In the original Māori-language version, 'function of government' is termed 'kāwanatanga'.

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How to cite this page:

Paul Meredith and Rawinia Higgins, 'Kāwanatanga – Māori engagement with the state - Defining kāwanatanga', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 11 December 2023)

Story by Paul Meredith and Rawinia Higgins, published 20 Jun 2012, updated 1 Aug 2016