Waitangi is a township located in the Bay of Islands on the North Island of New Zealand. It is located close to the town of Paihia (of which it is now considered a part), 60 kilometres north of Whangarei. The name means weeping waters in Māori.
Founding of a nation
Te Whare Runanga (Māori Meeting House).The Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi) proper, began on February 5, 1840, when a public meeting was held on the grounds in front of James Busby’s residence. Lieutenant Governor Hobson read a proposed document to the 300 or so, European and Maori who were in attendance and then provided the Maori chiefs an opportunity to speak. Initially, a large number of chiefs (including Te Kemara, Rewa, Moka ‚Kainga-mataa‘ and others) spoke against accepting the Crown’s proposition to rule over Aotearoa. However, later in the proceedings, a few chiefs began to entertain this idea; amongst the more notable chiefs to support the Crown, were Te Wharerahi, Pumuka, and the two Hokianga chiefs, Tamati Waka Nene and his brother Eruera Maihi Patuone). The proceedings were ended and were to continue on February 12; however, a number of chiefs pressed to sign earlier. The Treaty of Waitangi was initially signed on February 6, 1840 in a marquee erected in the grounds of James Busby’s house at Waitangi by representatives of the British Crown, the chiefs of the Confederation of the United Tribes of New Zealand, and other Māori tribal leaders, and subsequently by other Māori chiefs at other places in New Zealand. Not all of the chiefs chose to sign this document, with a number of chiefs either delaying or refusing to put pen to paper. Recently, Sydney-based Maori academic, Brent Kerehona (Ngapuhi/Whakatohea/Tuhoe/Whanau-a-Apanui) claims that uncertainty has arisen over whether Moka ‚Kainga-mataa‘, (who along with a number of other chiefs, protested loudly the previous day) actually signed; despite his name appearing on this document. The Treaty made New Zealand a British colony and is generally considered the founding document of New Zealand as a nation. Waitangi Day is the annual celebration of the signing, and is New Zealand’s national holiday.
In preparation for New Zealand Centenary in 1940, the Treaty house at Waitangi was restored in the 1930s, and the Meeting House Te Whare Runanga was built beside it, sparking the first emegerance of the Treaty into Pākehā attention since the 19th century.