He Whakaputanga - Declaration of Independence, 1835

You can also download an easier to read facsimile copy of the Declaration as a jpg file (5mbs).

On 28 October 1835, at the home of British Resident James Busby in Waitangi, 34 northern chiefs signed He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni (known in English as the Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand). 

The handwritten document consisting of four articles asserted that mana (authority) and sovereign power in New Zealand resided fully with Māori, and that foreigners would not be allowed to make laws. Te Whakaminenga, the Confederation of United Tribes, was to meet at Waitangi each autumn to frame laws, and in return for their protection of British subjects in their territory, they sought King William's protection against threats to their mana. They also thanked the King for acknowledging their flag.

By July 1839, 52 chiefs had signed He Whakaputanga, including Te Hāpuku and Te Wherowhero, the first Māori King. The document was officially acknowledged by the British government. Busby saw it as a significant mark of Māori national identity and believed it would prevent other countries from making formal deals with Māori.

See our database of signatories or read more about He Whakaputanga on the Archives New Zealand website.

Transcript

He Wakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni

1. Ko matou ko nga Tino Rangatira o nga iwi o Nu Tireni i raro mai o Hauraki kua oti nei te huihui i Waitangi i Tokerau 28 o Oketopa 1835. ka wakaputa i te Rangatiratanga o to matou wenua a ka meatia ka wakaputaia e matou he Wenua Rangatira. kia huaina ‘Ko te Wakaminenga o nga Hapu o Nu Tireni’.

2. Ko te Kingitanga ko te mana i te wenua o te wakaminenga o Nu Tireni ka meatia nei kei nga Tino Rangatira anake i to matou huihuinga. a ka mea hoki e kore e tukua e matou te wakarite ture ki te tahi hunga ke atu, me te tahi Kawanatanga hoki kia meatia i te wenua o te wakaminenga o Nu Tireni. ko nga tangata anake e meatia nei e matou e wakarite ana ki te ritenga o o matou ture e meatia nei e matou i to matou huihuinga.

3. Ko matou ko nga Tino Rangatira ke mea nei kia huihui ki te runanga ki Waitangi a te Ngahuru i tenei tau i tenei tau ki te wakarite ture kia tika ai te wakawakanga kia mau pu te rongo kia mutu te he kia tika te hokohoko. a ka mea hoki ki nga Tauiwi o runga kia wakarerea te wawai. kia mahara ai ki te wakaoranga o to matou wenua. a kia uru ratou ki te wakaminenga o Nu Tireni.

4. Ka mea matou kia tuhituhia he pukapuka ki te ritenga o tenei o to matou wakaputanga nei ki te Kingi o Ingarani hei kawe atu i to matou aroha. nana hoki i wakaae ki te Kara mo matou. a no te mea ka atawai matou, ka tiaki i nga pakeha e noho nei i uta e rere mai ana ki te hokohoko, koia ka mea ai matou ki te Kingi kia waiho hei matua ki a matou i to matou Tamarikitanga kei wakakahoretia to matou Rangatiratanga.

Kua wakaetia katoatia e matou i tenei ra i te 28 o opketopa 1835 ki te aroaro o te Reireneti o te Kingi o Ingarani.

The Codicil

Ko matou ko nga Rangatira ahakoa kihai i tae ki te huihuinga nei no te nuinga o te Waipuke no te aha ranei – ka wakaae katoa ki te waka putanga Rangatiratanga o Nu Tirene a ka uru ki roto ki te Wakaminenga.

A translation by Dr Mānuka Hēnare of Ngāpuhi, Te Aupōuri, Te Rarawa and Ngāti Kuri

He Wakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni

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).

The Codicil

We are the rangatira who, although we did not attend the meeting due to the widespread flooding or other reasons, fully agree with He Whakaputanga Rangatiratanga o Nu Tirene and join the sacred Confederation.

English version written by James Busby

The English text was drafted by British Resident James Busby for the 28 October 1835 signing. It was then translated into te reo Māori by Henry Williams and written out by Eruera Pare Hongi. Busby despatched the English text to both the New South Wales government and the Colonial Office in Britain.

Declaration of Independence of New Zealand

1. We, the hereditary chiefs and heads of the tribes of the Northern parts of New Zealand, being assembled at Waitangi, in the Bay of Islands, on this 28th day of October, 1835, declare the Independence of our country, which is hereby constituted and declared to be an Independent State, under the designation of The United Tribes of New Zealand.

2. All sovereign power and authority within the territories of the United Tribes of New Zealand is hereby declared to reside entirely and exclusively in the hereditary chiefs and heads of tribes in their collective capacity, who also declare that they will not permit any legislative authority separate from themselves in their collective capacity to exist, nor any function of government to be exercised within the said territories, unless by persons appointed by them, and acting under the authority of laws regularly enacted by them in Congress assembled.

3. The hereditary chiefs and heads of tribes agree to meet in Congress at Waitangi in the autumn of each year, for the purpose of framing laws for the dispensation of justice, the preservation of peace and good order, and the regulation of trade; and they cordially invite the Southern tribes to lay aside their private animosities and to consult the safety and welfare of our common country, by joining the Confederation of the United Tribes.

4. They also agree to send a copy of this Declaration to His Majesty, the King of England, to thank him for his acknowledgement of their flag; and in return for the friendship and protection they have shown, and are prepared to show, to such of his subjects as have settled in their country, or resorted to its shores for the purposes of trade, they entreat that he will continue to be the parent of their infant State, and that he will become its Protector from all attempts upon its independence.

Agreed to unanimously on this 28 day of October, 1835, in the presence of His Britannic Majesty’s Resident.

(Here follows the signatures or marks of thirty-five Hereditary chiefs or Heads of tribes, which form a fair representation of the tribes of New Zealand from the North Cape to the latitude of the River Thames.)
English witnesses:
(Signed) Henry Williams, Missionary, C.M.S.
George Clarke, C.M.S.
James R. Clendon, Merchant.
Gilbert Mair, Merchant.

I certify that the above is a correct copy of the Declaration of the Chiefs, according to the translation of Missionaries who have resided ten years and upwards in the country; and it is transmitted to His Most Gracious Majesty the King of England, at the unanimous request of the chiefs.

(Signed) JAMES BUSBY, British Resident at New Zealand.