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Manukau, 20 March 1840

The three main rangatira (chiefs) of Ngāti Whātua were the first to sign the Manukau-Kāwhia treaty sheet on 20 March 1840. W.C. Symonds, a British army officer who had recently been appointed by Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson as a police magistrate, was sent to collect signatures in the Manukau region. Symonds travelled with Felton Mathew, the acting surveyor-general, who did not officially witness these signatures. Anglican Church Missionary Society (CMS) missionary James Hamlin, who lived at Ōrua Bay on the Manukau Harbour, acted as a translator on 20 March and with Symonds witnessed the signatures.

Two meetings were held at this location in March. The date and exact place of the first meeting were not recorded, but it was called at short notice and the British proposal was explained. Rewa, of Ngāpuhi, who had reluctantly signed the Waitangi treaty sheet on 6 February, had been dropped off in Manukau after the Waitangi meeting by the Catholic Bishop Pompallier. Rewa argued strongly against signing the treaty and no signatures were gained.

A second meeting took place on 20 March. Te Wherowhero, an important rangatira of Waikato who later became the first Māori king, was there, along with rangatira from Taranaki, Tauranga and Taupō. While he was not interested in signing the treaty, he (fortunately for Symonds) did not attempt to stop others signing, and three Ngāti Whātua rangatira did so. Others stated that they would sign at a later date. Symonds reported that Te Wherowhero and many others ‘had yet to overcome a feeling of pique at having been left among the last whose concurrence in the treaty had been demanded’. [1]

Symonds had received orders from Hobson to collect signatures from Ngāti Whātua rangatira on 28 February, but did not receive the Manukau-Kāwhia treaty sheet and a letter of instructions from Colonial Secretary Willoughby Shortland until two weeks later. The delay was due to Hobson having a stroke on 1 March. On 3 April, with no further signatures in prospect, Symonds and Mathew travelled down the Awaroa River to Reverend Robert Maunsell’s CMS station at Waikato Heads.

[1] Symonds to Shortland, quoted in R.S. Bennett, Treaty to treaty: a history of early New Zealand from the Treaty of Tordesillas 1494 to the Treaty of Waitangi 1840, vol. 3, R.S. Bennett, Auckland, 2012, p. 282


Signature number Signed as Probable name Tribe Hapu
1 Te Kawau Āpihai Te Kawau Ngāti Whātua Te Taoū, Ngā Oho
2 Te Tinana Ihikiera Te Tinana Ngāti Whātua Te Taoū
3 Te Reweti Rēweti Tamahiki Ngāti Whātua Ngā Oho, Te Taoū