Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Waitangi Day

It is our national holiday this week. February 6. Celebrated on the anniversary of the day that the first Chiefs signed the Treaty with the English in a tent on the lawn at Mr Busby's home in Kororareka (now Russell) in the Bay of Islands.

It was contentious at the get-go, and those feelings of doubt and the shady translation at the time have permeated through our history ever since. Land Wars and Treaty settlements where land has been given back to the affected iwi. 

A lot of the discontent hinges on the meaning of sovereignty - and I'm not going to go into that in case I get it all wrong. But I do imagine it must have been difficult for the English translators to have been able to find the "right" words to convey just what the English understood sovereignty to be.

I came across an article reported in at least two Australian newspapers a month after the signing took place. It is quite long so I have only included part of it here. I was interested to see that one of the Englishmen who acted as translator was the Rev Williams who lived at the mission with his wife and quite substantive family (eleven children). This man is a direct ancestor of my neighbour.

This is the part of the article that refers to the day the signing began. The day before had been taken up with the address, then the reading and translating of the treaty. Much discussion was held afterward with concerns raised and debated, and a decision to allow time to reflect and consider the proposals.

New Zealand. (1840, February 26). The Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser (NSW : 1838 - 1841), p. 4 Edition: MORNING. Retrieved February 2, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article32167331

I love that all that is documented for the following day is the comment about the weather !

The next portion in this report from New Zealand was about the arrival of the first wave of settlers to Port Nicholson (Wellington). They were disappointed ? What did they expect to find on their arrival ? A fully functioning settlement ? They were the first settlers arriving there for goodness sake. I hope they made a concerted effort to establish the town, so that when my first emigrant ancestors arrived in mid 1841, they were not disappointed with what they saw.

New Zealand. (1840, February 26). The Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser (NSW : 1838 - 1841), p. 4 Edition: MORNING. Retrieved February 2, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article32167331

Nowadays, the official Waitangi Day celebrations take place on the marae at Russell. In many towns and cities around the country local communities hold festivals and events which embrace the many cultures of our people as we strive to become a harmonious multicultural society.

This post forms part of Trove Tuesday as suggested by Amy, from Branches, Leaves & Pollen.

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