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«TE WIREMU, TE PUHIPI, HE WAKAPUTANGA ME TE TIRITI HENRY WILLIAMS, JAMES BUSBY, A DECLARATION AND THE TREATY A report commissioned by the Waitangi ...»

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The Declaration of Independence, was transmitted to the Revd. Henry Williams to be translated, with a request that he and his colleagues would offer any suggestions for its improvement which might occur to them, but no suggestion was offered, nor had I any reason to doubt that the declaration was entirely approved by all the Missionaries who had an opportunity of examining it.215 While Te Wiremu probably played a leading role in translating from English to Māori, he probably received assistance from other missionaries.216 Manuka Henare suggests that Busby and Williams prepared an initial Māori draft to be read out to the assembled rangatira at Waitangi on 28 October. After debate and discussion Henare believes a revised draft was read out and then marked with moko or signatures. Henare also suggests that the kaituhituhi or Māori scribe listed on the signed He Wakaputanga, Eruera Pare, assisted Williams and Busby with the original Māori draft or some aspects of translation.217 Busby’s account however suggested that this scribe, the ‘son of a chief’, merely wrote out the final He Wakaputanga copy; he did not indicate any role in drafting or translation.218 The exact sequence of texts is unclear. Busby’s certification of the English text commonly available today describes this as a missionary ‘translation’ of the ‘Declaration of the Chiefs’.219 This implies that missionaries translated the final signed Māori text into English. This supports Henare’s account that there never was an original English text. Loveridge, however, argues convincingly that this ‘translation’ was very likely based on, perhaps identical to, Busby’s 215 Busby to Col Sec NSW, 16 Mar 1836, No 91, CO 209/2, p 213, (and cited by Loveridge, ‘Declaration’, p 12).

216 Soon after his arrival in New Zealand, in 1823, Henry Williams organized regular meetings of his missionary colleagues to formalize their learning of te reo Māori. Translating the Anglican liturgy and the Bible soon became a means to learning and later the focus of these groups. Although he did not take a leading role in the translation of the 1837 New Testament, unlike his brother William, William Yate and William Puckey, Henry did take an active part in these language-translation groups especially in the earlier years. See L M Rogers, Te Wiremu: A Biography of Henry Williams (Christchurch: Pegasus, 1973), pp 56, 63n, 69, 78, 82, 102, 122n.

217 Henare, From Tribes to Nation. Henare’s account is unclear: he suggests that Eruera Pare ‘assisted’ Williams and Busby as a ‘scribe’, which does not imply translation, only copying (p 187); he later suggests that Pare helped in the translation of an English text into Māori (p197). This last point is also confusing, as Henare also states that the English text we have is a ‘missionary translation’ of the final Māori text – what the missionaries thought Māori were doing (pp193, 197); and see next paragraph.

218 Cited in Loveridge, ‘Declaration’, p 12, citing report in Sydney Morning Herald of 6 July 1840, concerning proceedings in NSW Legislative Council of 30 June 1840.

219 Orange, Treaty, pp 255-256, being a transcription of the English text from Facsimiles of the Declaration of Independence and the Treaty of Waitangi (Wellington: 1976) being itself a copy from H H Turton (1877).

73 original English draft referred to above.220 Henare’s view that the initial Māori text could well have been altered as a consequence of the kōrerorero of rangatira has a ring of truth to it.

As a sequel to the signing of the Declaration, Henry Williams recommended to Busby the erection of a ‘weather-boarded’ House of Assembly at Waitangi to accommodate chiefs and encourage them to attend regular meetings there. On 28 October Busby had loaned each chief ‘a Blanket and expressed my regret that I had no accommodation to offer him’. He indicated that 18 months previously (in early 1834) he acquired the framing timber and flooring for such a building, but had to use it for ‘another purpose’. The NSW Legislative Council and Governor Bourke ensured that Busby’s Residency was often under-funded.221 There is little reason to doubt that the materials intended for the House of Assembly was used for a legitimate purpose (perhaps for storing supplies, or even building his own house). Yet it remains something of a mystery why Busby failed to make funding requests for such a building.

This may be explained by the uncertain situation created by the Te Hikutu-Whananaki affair in January 1836. At that stage, and for one or two years following, the safety of his family and the failure of Busby’s superiors to provide him with tangible support preoccupied Busby. Certainly, the failure to arrange the construction of this House of Assembly or Parliament can not be attributed to Williams or the missionary body, who would not have considered this their duty.

The fact that Williams raised the point though indicates that he envisaged a Māori Parliament in a similar way to Busby.

Ngā Whakaaro o te Wakaputanga – the Language of the Declaration (Māori text) Article 1

–  –  –

Rangatiratanga o to matou wenua a ka meatia ka wakaputaia e matou he Wenua Rangatira, kia huaina, Ko te Wakaminenga o nga Hapū o Nu Tireni.

In the analysis (above) of the English text of He Wakaputanga, the first article was intended to effect two things: it declared the independence of the country of New Zealand, and it constituted by means of that declaration an ‘Independent State’ called or named ‘The United Tribes of New Zealand’.





In the Māori text, the declaration took the form of ‘ka wakaputa i te Rangatiratanga o to matou wenua’, literally ‘cause to come forth the Chieftainship of our land’, though wakaputa could also mean ‘declare’ or ‘announce’. The ‘Independent State’, rendered in Māori ‘he Wenua Rangatira’, meant ‘a Chief(ly) Land’ or ‘a Free Country’, which was caused or made (‘ka meatia’) and declared (‘ka wakaputaia’) by the rangatira, to be named (‘kia huaina’) ‘the Assembly of the Tribes of New Zealand’ (‘Ko te Wakaminenga o nga Hapū o Nu Tireni’).

The questions this chapter seeks to answer are: What was Te Wiremu’s understanding of the Declaration; and did the Māori text convey that understanding to the rangatira signatories?

When he came to translate Busby’s English text, did Williams understand other declarations of independence elsewhere? What would the English concept of an ‘Independent State’ have meant to him?

Henry Williams and most of his fellow missionaries probably lacked a detailed understanding of the American Declaration of Independence (1776). Yet the American Revolution was still within living memory in the 1830s and continued to inform the British imagination. Its memory was especially relevant to England’s Dissenting churches, those outside the established Church of England. Although Williams and his CMS colleagues were Anglicans, their low-church Evangelical convictions meant their religious beliefs were more allied to the Dissenting or Nonconformist tradition. They believed in the centrality of the Bible, the Cross of Christ, conversion, and social activism or humanitarianism.222 Williams came from a Non-Conformist 222 See summary of these four characteristics of Evangelicalism in Dingle, ‘Gospel Power for Civilization’, pp 16background. His grandfather was the Dissenting Minister at Gosport Congregational Chapel on the southern coast of England (opposite Portsmouth) for some twenty years (1750-1770). His father and the family continued to attend the Gosport Chapel until the family moved to the Midland city of Nottingham in 1794, but continued to have connections with the church until he was formally accepted into the membership of the Castle Gate Chapel, a Dissenting congregation in Nottingham, in 1802. The Reverend David Bogue’s inspiring tenure at Gosport for a staggering 47 years (1777-1825) is perhaps a reason why Williams’ father was reluctant to finally leave Gosport.

Bogue was a founding member of the London Missionary Society in 1795 and his theologically-informed and reasoned writings (and presumably sermons) along with his missionary zeal must have been reasons for his success.223 Quite probably the Williams family had Bogue’s writings on its shelves.224 In a four volume work entitled History of Dissenters, Bogue and his fellow author articulated the sympathy of English Dissenters with their American ‘brethren’ over the American Revolution:

The principles of liberty appeared to the [English] dissenters to be endangered in this unnatural contest [between Britain and her American colonies]. The haughty tone of the British ministry, and the unqualified submission which, in the day of their success, they demanded from the Americans as the condition of reconciliation and favour, gave rise to the strongest suspicion that it was their design to forge chains for the vanquished colonies, and to hold in their own hands the despot’s lash. It had been well if they had used milder language, and uttered sentiments more consonant to the feelings of that most respectable portion of the English public, which holds liberty dear as life itself, and hears with detestation every expression which savours of the tyrant or the slave.225 Bogue explained the attachment of the English Dissenters to the Americans as a ‘religious union’, as ‘many of the colonists, in almost every state, maintained the same doctrines of faith, and the same system of church government as themselves’.226 223 N T H Williams, ‘The Williams Family in the 18th and 19th Centuries’, 2003, p 35.

224 The Rev D Bogue is recorded as staying with the Williams family and speaking at the Castle Gate Chapel in Nottingham in 1801, a service attended by the Williams family (see ibid, p 33).

225

D Bogue and J Bennett, History of Dissenters, from the Revolution in 1688, to the Year 1808, vol 4 (London:

1812), (http://books.google.com/books, 2 June 2009), pp 152-153.

226 Ibid, p 153.

76 The English, the Dissenters especially, felt keenly the separation of the confederated American states from the British nation and empire, but as Bogue writes, many English Dissenters saw in it the creation of a free polity in which religious liberty was assured.227 This was no new doctrine.

The English, the ranks of Dissent included, believed their constitution free, even though it was a church establishment. It was free precisely because it was based on a reformed Protestant faith (both Anglican and non-Anglican) and defended by a Protestant King. Bogue may well have been on the more radical side of Orthodox (Calvinist) Dissent, but his basic view, of English liberties being essentially negative liberties – that is, freedom from tyranny and slavery – was shared by the bulk of the British nation. Dissenters also understood this liberty as the right to exercise private judgment (‘conscience’) in matters of religious doctrine and forms of church government. Written in the aftermath of the abolition of slavery in 1807, Bogue’s language also contains echoes of anti-slavery language (‘the despot’s lash’). The contrast between political (and religious) slavery and political liberty was, however, a long-standing English tradition.

This English Protestant language of liberty echoed within the English and Māori texts of the Declaration of Independence 1835. An ‘Independent State’ or ‘he Wenua Rangatira’ was one in which religious and civil liberty reigned. If Williams and his CMS colleagues were not aware of the finer details of the American Declaration, they would have had some comprehension of both its related religious and civil implications. Although the American colonies had asserted their liberty by separating themselves from British imperial control, Williams would certainly have believed the British Empire should support Māori rangatiratanga in 1835. The 1835 British Empire was more humanitarian and more Christian even than its 1776 counterpart. In this context, also, any French attempts to control New Zealand were a dim prospect.

The missionaries, in general terms, looked forward to a New Zealand in which all its inhabitants were ‘rangatira’, that is, liberated from all forms of slavery – spiritual, material, and political, although not without hierarchy – ‘nga Tino Rangatira’ or the ‘hereditary chiefs’ of the 227 Bogue and Bennett, History of Dissenters, pp 153-155. Even loyal British Americans of the ‘maritime colonies’ New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and others, saw the American Revolution in this way in the 1830s-40s, see G Marquis, ‘In Defence of Liberty: 17th Century England and 19th Century Maritime Political Culture’, University of New Brunswick Law Journal, vol 42, 1993, p 82.

77 Declaration’s first article. They saw hierarchy as consistent with freedom. British (Burkean) conservatism saw hierarchy as essential to liberty. The religious or spiritual connotations of ‘he Wenua Rangatira’ (‘an Independent State’) and ‘Rangatiratanga’ (‘Independence’) predominate in the Māori text of He Wakaputanga. Two or three passages from the Bible will help explain this connection between the material and the spiritual.228 In the Book of John, chapter 8, versus 31-32, the 1837 Māori translation of the New Testament (Te Kawenata Hou) read:

Me i reira ka mea atu a Ihu ki nga Hurai i wakapono ki a ia, [‘]Ki te mau tonu koutou ki taku kupu, he tino akonga ano koutou naku; A e matau koutou ki te pono, ma te pono koutou e wakarangatiratia[’]. (Hoani 8:31-32) (Then Jesus said to those Jews which believed on him, [‘]If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free[‘]. (KJV)) To this statement, the Jews responded that they were the descendents of Abraham and had never been anybody’s slaves (‘He wanau matou no Aperahama, kahore ano matou i wakaponongatia ki tetahi tangata’ v 33a); what then, they said, did Jesus mean by saying ‘Ye shall be made free’?

(‘e wakarangatiratia koutou’ v 33b). Jesus explained that everyone who sinned was a slave of

sin, but that:



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