Bay of Islands, 17 February 1840

Nga Wahi

17 February 1840Sheet 1 — The Waitangi Sheet

On 17 February 1840 James Clendon, an Englishman acting as American consul, witnessed the addition of Pōmare II’s signature to the Waitangi sheet of the Treaty of Waitangi. Pōmare added his signature above Hōne Heke Pōkai’s, who signed on 6 February, but it is dated and signed by Clendon as 17 February. The location was not given, but is likely to have been Waitangi or Paihia. The signature is perhaps part of Pōmare’s moko.

Pōmare’s delay in signing the treaty may have been due to the influence of Catholic missionaries. Alternatively, he may have been seeking further gifts. According to the American naval commander Charles Wilkes, Pōmare was most enthusiastic about how he would look in the scarlet uniform and epaulettes (ornamental shoulder pieces) he expected Queen Victoria to send him.

Wilkes was critical of the explanation Clendon had given of the treaty and later interviewed Pōmare to see what impression he had of the treaty. Wilkes said that Pōmare believed he had not given up any sovereignty, and stated that he was not able to in any case, as it belonged to all of his iwi (tribe).


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