Drafting error means NZ has been independent since 1901
office at evnuk.org.uk
Fri Sep 19 00:34:10 BST 2008
The 1840 'Treaty of Waitangi' is written as an agreement between the
Chiefs of New Zealand and Victoria herself. And in a blinding drafting
error, the outlined agreement with Victoria does not sustain her
authority to her heirs and successors. Without an agreed provision, an
agreement between two parties cannot be held to when one party dies.
So - according to some - all obligations between New Zealand and
Britain ceased on 22 January 1901.
New Zealand History/The Treaty of Waitangi
New Zealand Day
Max Cryer reflects on an important Kiwi holiday - Experience magazine
Until 1934, the date of 6 February was barely thought of as important
in the development of New Zealand as a nation. If anything, 29 January
was perceived as more significant - being the date of Governor
Hobson's arrival at Russell (the then capital) in the Bay of Islands.
But in 1934, the significance of Waitangi was being discussed and in
1947, after 13 years of discussion, 6 February was declared to be an
annual day of celebration and a public holiday to be called Waitangi Day.
The name changed in 1974 to New Zealand Day, then back to Waitangi Day
in 1976. Fine, but there are other dates that could separate the
concept of New Zealand as one nation from the 'shadow of Waitangi'.
The association with 6 February as the 'date New Zealand became a
nation' can be seen as having little more claim than several other
possible dates with historical significance. Take the following for
Britain decreed in 1839 that Captain William Hobson would be
Lieutenant Governor of New Zealand. On 14 January he was 'proclaimed
and sworn in, in 1840, on arriving in Sydney. On that date English law
effectively became New Zealand law.
On this day in 1788 Captain Phillip was appointed Governor of the
Territory of New South Wales. His jurisdiction included 'all the
islands adjacent in the Pacific Ocean'. Thus, New Zealand first came
under Britain's formal rule more than 50 years before the Treaty of
Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson arrived in the Bay of Islands on
this date in 1840 bearing the dual rank of Consul. The date originally
became known as 'the anniversary of the colony' but later changed to
being just the anniversary Day of Auckland province.
Having arrived in New Zealand, Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson made
a public announcement of the Letters Patent giving him his authority.
That day was the first formal proclamation of British authority on New
Forty chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi. There were still seven
months of travel and over 400 more signatures required before the
Treaty was completed and valid.
On this day in 1840 Hobson made a proclamation designating that the
North Island was 'claimed by secession; the South Island 'by discovery:
On this day in 1839 Letters Patent were issued in the name of Queen
Victoria extending the boundaries of New South Wales to include the
area of New Zealand. This was not formally recognised as the birth of
a nation but nevertheless a stated intention that Britain had an
interest in including New Zealand on its map.
In 1840 on this day the British Parliament passed an Act which
authorised the treatment of New Zealand as a separate colony. Clearly,
the Colonial Office in Britain was by then regarding us as a different
country and not to be regarded as an adjunct to Australia.
On this day in 1839 Hobson was formally appointed as Consul to New
Zealand, with authority to negotiate with the Maori race for their
recognition of the British crown. Therefore the date is a fairly firm
beginning of the process by which New Zealand eventually became a
The final signatures went on the treaty of Waitangi and the treaty was
'complete: From this date Britain's many proclamations were seen to
have the signed agreement of the resident race and New Zealanders
could formally begin to regard themselves as 'one nation'.
Hobson's various statements on New Zealand soil in 1840 took a long
time to reach Britain by sea. When they did, the official Gazette of 2
October 1840, printed them, thus formally and publicly acknowledging
for the first time that a new colony had been established.
In 1769 Captain Cook landed in New Zealand, and although at that time
he had little authority to do so, on 15 November he 'took possession
in the name of the King'. Getting Britain to accept this took over 50
years. But Cook's gesture could be seen as the beginning of New
Zealand's transition from unknown Pacific islands to eventual
On this date in 1840 Queen Victoria signed a charter formally
declaring New Zealand to be a separate colony from New South Wales,
following the Parliamentary Act of 7 August. For the first time,
individuality of the colony was established, and New Zealand was
acknowledged as its 'own' territory, no longer part of Australia.
Strictly speaking all those dates are part of our pathway to
dependence rather than celebrating independence and 'nationhood: The
path to independence is plotted through the transition from colony to
dominion to parliamentary state. Since 1974 New Zealand has been its
own separate kingdom, officially known as an Independent Sovereign
Realm. But to one school of thought, independence from Britain
happened without anyone taking notice.
On 22 January 1901, Queen Victoria died. The Treaty of Waitangi is
frequently referred to by commentators as being an agreement between
the Maori race and the British Government. But the Government (or the
Crown) are not mentioned in the Treaty at all - only Queen Victoria is.
Such was the power of her image that the 1840 'Treaty of Waitangi' is
written as an agreement between the Chiefs of New Zealand and Victoria
herself. And in a blinding drafting error, the outlined agreement with
Victoria does not sustain her authority to her heirs and successors.
Without an agreed provision, an agreement between two parties cannot
be held to when one party dies. So - according to some all obligations
between New Zealand and Britain ceased on 22 January 1901. No legal
agreement exists that gives any British sovereign after Victoria
authority over this country.
So why not make 22 January the date to celebrate our independence?
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