Mohi Tāwhai

Nga Tohu

In 1840 more than 500 chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s founding document. Ngā Tohu, when complete, will contain a biographical sketch of each signatory.


Signing

SignatureSheetSigned asProbable nameTribeHapūSigning Occasion
145Sheet 1 — The Waitangi SheetMohi TawaiMohi TāwhaiNgāpuhiTe Māhurehure, Te Uri Kaiwhare, Te Uri-o-te-Aho, Ngāi Tūpoto, Ngāti HauMangungu 12 February 1840

Mohi Tāwhai signed the Treaty of Waitangi on 12 February 1840 at Mangungu, Hokianga. He had also signed the 1835 Declaration of Independence.

With his wife Rāwinia Hine-i-koaia (also known as Hārata), he had a son, Hōne Mohi Tāwhai. Tāwhai was baptised as a Wesleyan (Methodist) at Mangungu, taking the name Mohi (Moses). Tāwhai would later fight on the side of the Crown against Hone Heke Pōkai in the Northern War of 1845–46.

During the discussions before the signing of the treaty, Tāwhai speculated about the future:

How do you do, Mr. Governor? All we think is that you come to deceive us. The Pakehas tell us so, and we believe what they say; what else? ... Where does the Governor get his authority? Is it from the Queen? Let him come; what power has he? Well, let him come, let him stop all the lands from falling into the hands of the Pakehas. Hear, all ye Pakehas! Perhaps you are rum-drinkers, perhaps not; hear what is said by us. I want all to hear. It is quite right for us to say what we think; it is right for us to speak. Let the tongue of every one be free to speak; but what of it? What will be the end? Our sayings will sink to the bottom like a stone, but your sayings will float light, like the wood of the Whau-tree, and always remain to be seen. Am I telling lies? … Suppose the land has been stolen from us, will the Governor enquire about it? Perhaps he will, perhaps he will not. If they have acquired the land by fair purchase, let them have it. [1]


[1] T. Lindsay Buick, The Treaty of Waitangi: or, how New Zealand became a British colony, Mackay, Wellington, 1914, pp. 138, 140


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How to cite this page

'Mohi Tāwhai', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/politics/treaty/signatory/1-145, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 20-Dec-2017

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John William Hohepa

Posted: 20 Dec 2017

IN THE SPIRIT OF UNITY, THE PEACEFUL AND HARMONIOUS RELATIONS OF NU TIRENI, AOTEAROA, TE IKA A MAUI. WE EMBRACE AND EMPOWER THE FUTURE OF OUR SOVEREIGN NATION AS DESCRIBED IN THE ARTICLES OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE 1835. We humbly request the International Leaders of Church, Religious Congregations, Community, Public and Private Organizations to support the peaceful initiatives of the Confederation of Hereditary Chiefs and the Collective of Hapu/Whanau/Rangatira whom gather to commemorate and pursue the Declaration Of Independence.

We honor the commitment of our Ancestors who for the protection of our heritage and the estate of lands and territorial waters of the New Zealand Maori, witnessed the 21 Gun Salute of the Royal Navy War Ship the HMS Alligator. This historic day between Maori and English was recognised by King William IV of England that on Wednesday, October, 28, 1835 the official Te Kara Flag of the Confederation of Chiefs was hoisted on the sacred grounds of Waitangi, in good faith with the British Resident James Busby the Declaration Of Independence of New Zealand was signed.

THE DECLARATION

1. We, the absolute leaders of the tribes (iwi) of New Zealand (Nu Tireni) to the north of Hauraki (Thames) having assembled in the Bay of Islands (Tokerau) on 28th October 1835. [We] declare the authority and leadership of our country and say and declare them to be prosperous economy and chiefly country (Wenua Rangatira) under the title of ‘Te Wakaminenga o ngā Hapū o Nu Tireni’ (The sacred Confederation of Tribes of New Zealand).

2. The sovereignty/kingship (Kīngitanga) and the mana from the land of the Confederation of New Zealand are here declared to belong solely to the true leaders (Tino Rangatira) of our gathering, and we also declare that we will not allow (tukua) any other group to frame laws (wakarite ture), nor any Governorship (Kawanatanga) to be established in the lands of the Confederation, unless (by persons) appointed by us to carry out (wakarite) the laws (ture) we have enacted in our assembly (huihuinga).

3. We, the true leaders have agreed to meet in a formal gathering (rūnanga) at Waitangi in the autumn (Ngahuru) of each year to enact laws (wakarite ture) that justice may be done (kia tika ai te wakawakanga), so that peace may prevail and wrong-doing cease and trade (hokohoko) be fair. [We] invite the southern tribes to set aside their animosities, consider the well-being of our land and enter into the sacred Confederation of New Zealand.

4. We agree that a copy of our declaration should be written and sent to the King of England to express our appreciation (aroha) for this approval of our flag. And because we are showing friendship and care for the Pākehā who live on our shores, who have come here to trade (hokohoko), we ask the King to remain as a protector (matua) for us in our inexperienced statehood (tamarikitanga), lest our authority and leadership be ended (kei whakakahoretia tō mātou Rangatiratanga).

We also honor the Signatories who in good faith, shared with the Lieutenant Governor William Hobson the agreement of the Treaty of Waitangi Thursday, February, 6, 1840 that Maori did in fact reaffirm their sovereign rights to the undisputed possession of their lands and territorial waters.

We treasure at this time the courage and morn the pain, suffering and sacrifices of those ancestors who were brutally overcome by gun fire and where in skirmishes with colonial setters and forces with the devastation of canon fire causing murderous death upon Maori Communities lead to war being declared in writing and in person to the New Zealand Government and its military. The New Zealand Wars and other historic confrontations by the invasion of the British Empire, French and American Foreigners culminating in Colonial Police, Soldiers, Mercenaries, Militia, Veteran Contingents and Commanders under the orders of the British Commonwealth and the Parliament(s) of New South Wales and the United Kingdom hosted numerous war crimes and human rights abuse.

In 2015 on the 180th Anniversary of Te Wakaputanga o Nga Tino Rangatiratanga o Nu Tirene, the Taumata of Te Tii O Waitangi Marae decided to follow the due process of keeping a historic written record of the speakers, attendance and the decisions by the Collective of Hapu leaders. The appointment was made of a scribe and was given the Tautoko of the house. It was requested for a further appointment of secondary scribe to work in unison translating, identifying speakers, summarizing discussions and scrutinising documents being tabled. These minutes were taken from draft to final copies where they were placed on the Whariki in the Whare on the 6th February 2016 Waitangi Day.

History was also made on the 181st Anniversary where the 1st Roll of Honor of the Tupuna Signatories took place. This due diligence was also followed with a hereditary process permitted by the Collective for those in attendance to wakapapa/tatai to their tupuna. The due diligence of the Whare is a work in process the Official Roll Of Honor was the only process carried at the Tau Rangatira for this years 182nd Anniversary of the signing of He Wakaputanga.

The final process of this sequence of history took place where Article 3. of the Declaration the Ngahuru Hui followed due process this year in a 2 day hui at Te Tii O Waitangi Marae this year.

The Declaration/He Wakaputanga, signed at Waitangi on 28 October 1835 by 35 northern rangatira, affirmed the sovereignty that existed and provided the basis for the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi / Te Tiriti o Waitangi just over four years later. Through the declaration of independence, the Māori leaders established themselves as representatives of New Zealand under the title “United Tribes of New Zealand. British Resident Busby saw it as a significant mark of Māori national identity. The 35 signatories declared that all power and authority resided with the hereditary rangatira who agreed to act collectively. A copy of the document went to King William IV of England asking him to act as protector of the new state. What is interesting about this is that it is part of our journey towards properly upholding the rights of Aotearoa’s indigenous people.

The significance of these two documents has been recently examined by the Waitangi Tribunal in its report, He Wakaputanga me te Tiriti – The Declaration and the Treaty. The 2014 report, on the first stage of the Northern District Inquiry – Te Paparahi o te Raki, examines the meaning of the Declaration and the Treaty to those who signed them. The second stage of the Tribunal’s inquiry will look further at what the Treaty means today. The Tribunal concluded that he Wakaputanga was an unambiguous declaration of Māori sovereignty and independence. The Tribunal also found that: ‘The rangatira who signed te Tiriti o Waitangi in February 1840 did not cede their sovereignty to Britain... That is, they did not cede authority to make and enforce law over their people or their territories.’ Rather their intention was ‘to share power and authority with Britain’. The Tribunal’s first stage report and ongoing inquiry provide a major contribution to our understanding of the Treaty, and to ongoing discussion about what it means for all of us in Aotearoa New Zealand today.

According to Indigenous Rights Commissioner Karen Johansen, another landmark human rights document, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (or ‘UNDRIP’), provides important guidance for how the rights and responsibilities inherent in our Treaty and Declaration are to be given effect today. The UNDRIP, adopted by the United Nations in 2007, affirms that indigenous peoples have all human rights and explains how these apply in the particular circumstances of indigenous peoples. It contains 46 articles that cover all areas of human rights, including: Self-determination Equality and non-discrimination Participation, underpinned by free, prior, informed consent Culture Land, territories and resources. The UNDRIP also deals with the relationship between indigenous peoples and states. It aims to “enhance harmonious and cooperative relations between the State and Indigenous Peoples, based on principles of justice, democracy, respect for human rights, non-discrimination and good faith”.