Williams and Treaty



Henry Williams translated the draft Treaty into Maori and persuaded the Chiefs to sign at Waitangi. That he was successful was something that later troubled him and the other missionaries, as the Government and settlers abrogated the terms and spirit of the Treaty, with consequent suffering to Maori. Later, critics had much to say about the Treaty process and Williams' translation, but modern scholarship is showing him in a different light. The notes below illustrate something of the history of his involvement and the ways in which posterity has seen him. William Williams became involved later in seeking Maori signatures on the East Coast.


The missionaries saw the Treaty of Waitangi and British Government intervention as the least worst of possible solutions to relationships between Maori and growing numbers of unrestrained settlers. Civil order, the New Zealand Company’s dubious land ventures, speculators from New South Wales, the presence of French missionaries and naval vessels – there were a number of troubling signs. Better, then, to throw in their lot with the British Government and the Queen, in whom they could place some trust, and with whom, in a constitutional sense, there was some familiarity. Here lay the possibility of Maori interests being protected. Or so they thought.


In a preamble to 1840, in January 1838 Henry Williams wrote to the Secretary of the Church Missionary Society, Dandeson Coates, expressing his concern at the tide of European immigration and the potential swamping of Maori. His solution was to have the British Government “take charge of the Country”, appoint a Governor, and create a general assembly of Chiefs, with the protection of a military force that would give weight to any laws that might be established. This foreshadowed the duality of British sovereignty and Chiefly authority, and the relationship between them that was to cause much debate later on.[1] Just how such a scheme would work out in practice was beyond the comprehension of all those involved – including circles within the British Government. That the future treaty would be prescriptive and detailed on these matters seemed extremely unlikely –despite the wish of modern commentators that this should be the case.


That Anglican missionaries would be enlisted in the Treaty project was inevitable, as the Colonial Office had already seen them as “powerful auxiliaries” and their Bishop in Australia had urged them to render assistance. They were the closest thing to both an establishment church and a networked civil authority in New Zealand, to a degree they were trusted by Maori, and most were fluent in the language. 


However the timing was not fortuitous. Protocol required that a senior missionary be present. Language skills would be assumed. A track record in translation and simultaneous interpreting would be very desirable – but such people were not to hand. William Williams and Robert Maunsell, two members of the Church Missionary Society translation syndicate, were days, if not weeks, away from Waitangi.[2] The senior missionary was Henry Williams; his presence in some respects a matter of luck as he had just returned from a lengthy overland journey from Wellington. It would have been known that he was earlier the translator for Busby’s He Wakaputanga, the Declaration of Independence. His son, Edward, who grew up amongst the Ngapuhi, was able to assist him. What is now obvious, that the translator and interpreter would play a critical role in the drafting, acceptance, and durability of the Treaty, was not given the attention it deserved when a timetable was being drawn up by the authorities.[3]




Following a summons by Captain Hobson, Henry and Edward Williams were given a draft of the Treaty in English at about 4.00 pm on February 4th, 1840. He was instructed to have the translation ready by 10.00 am the next day, when it was read to the assembled chiefs. Hobson first read the Treaty in English, before Henry Williams followed with the Maori translation. The chiefs responded at length, with some interruptions from Europeans who were present. Henry Williams interpreted the oral debate for the assembled company. 


A diversion arose when Henry Williams felt obliged to defend missionary land purchases, following objections by Te Kemara and others to settler acquisition of land. While the Chiefs’ remarks were seen as rhetoric and, according to Colenso, ‘mere show’ [4], Henry Williams felt bound to explain his reasons for buying land and assure the gathering that his purchases would be the first to be scrutinised by the Land Commissioners. 


They broke at 4.00 pm. Discussion between Henry Williams and the Chiefs continued that evening.[5] Richard Taylor copied the Maori translation on to parchment on the night of the 5th February. The next morning the chiefs indicated that they needed no further time. The Treaty in Maori was again read, and after further discussion they signed. 

No verbatim record of the proceedings was possible. There were, however, a number of recollections, notes taken, journals, letters written by individuals, newspaper reports, and the official record in the Blue Book of 1840. The most widely quoted and detailed account is that of William Colenso whose notes at the signing he transcribed into a memorandum several days after the event, and published fifty years later.[6] A recent analysis found that while a useful record, they were influenced by his personal views and biases, and need to be treated with some caution.[7] Henry Williams later recorded his own account of events in “Early Recollections”, an unpublished manuscript referred to in Carleton’s Life of Henry Williams.[8] Little of the available record is in Maori. Later research and commentary has been dependent on the sources mentioned.


On April 8, 1840, Henry Williams arrived at Turanga (Poverty Bay) to give his brother William a copy of the Treaty in Maori, to obtain signatures from East Cape to Ahururi (Napier).[9] William Williams spent April and May on this task, among his pastoral activities, making an overland journey to the East Cape, gathering signatures and speaking to chiefs about the Treaty. Henry Williams Junior was staying with his uncle and aunt at the time and signed the copy as a witness.


If William Williams had any reservations as to the Treaty wording or its translation he did not make these known. In a letter to the Church Missionary Society in 1847 he referred to the wording of the Treaty as “ too plain and simple to admit of a double meaning”. As to whether he, or Robert Maunsell, would have made a better job of translating the Treaty – as often suggested - this is speculation, as they did not appear to be greatly troubled by the version they were promoting.[10]

From Turanga, Henry Williams went on to Port Nicholson, Queen Charlotte Sound, the Kapiti Coast and Otaki, gathering signatures. At Port Nicholson he had to override the intemperate objections of Colonel Wakefield of the New Zealand Company. Several others, including missionaries, were responsible for obtaining signatures in other parts of the country.[11]


On the 21 May 1840 Hobson proclaimed sovereignty over New Zealand, although Maori signatures were still being sought, and some did not sign at all. The years following the Treaty were turbulent. The New Zealand Company – both in England and New Zealand – sought to undermine the Treaty. There were outbreaks of fighting among Maori and between Maori and British soldiers. Henry Williams was frequently called upon to mediate in disputes and provide advice to government officials, who were not always up to the task. He was anxious to remove himself from politics and refocus on his mission work, but for the next decade peace of this sort was to elude him. 


In 1847 William Williams wrote to the Church Missionary Society expressing deep missionary concern at the behavior of the Government in relation to the Treaty and its promises, and the now invidious position of the missionaries who had been active in gaining signatures and promoting the Treaty. The result, he said, would be ‘deadly warfare’ between the races. He was not far wrong.[12]

Although he probably discussed the terms of the Treaty with its drafters, His primary role in its preparation was its translation (with his son) into Maori, interpreter of the oral debate, and as an advocate for the Treaty and its intentions. It was on these aspects of his performance that criticism fell, then and later – both in his choice of terms and on his conduct during the process. This misunderstands the mechanics and complexities of translating and interpreting, today subject to expertise and advanced technology. There has been a tendency to find ulterior motives in perceived deficiencies. Henry Williams’ interpreting of oral exchanges was criticized for being too low or inaudible – a problem parlayed into a device for misinforming those present.[13] However, interpreters routinely lower their voices so as not to overpower the primary speaker – acoustics in HMS Herald’s crowded marquee would have been far from perfect. Translation, from the written word, is easier than simultaneous interpreting, which requires rapid thought to make sense in another language – it is almost impossible to think aloud and present a simultaneous oral translation to an audience.[14]


His choice of terms used in Te Tiriti, the Maori translation from the English draft, has long been the subject of critical debate. In particular his use of kawanatanga for “sovereignty” and rangitiratanga for “ownership and control of tribal property and resources”, have received close scrutiny, as has his avoidance of the term mana. Opinion has covered an entire spectrum of possibilities, not all of them flattering to Henry Williams. Disagreement among historians, lawyers, and advocacy groups persists.






It is not intended to revisit the detail of Treaty drafting and execution, most of which is well known, or debate the neologisms used by Henry Williams in the translation.[15] What is of interest, however, is the role of the missionaries, and how this has been interpreted by historians of the last fifty years, as Treaty issues have come under greater scrutiny. Certain facts do not change – the Governor arrives at Waitangi, steps ashore, pronouncements are made and a meeting called. A document is drafted, translated, discussed and signed. Nothing there in dispute. But the accumulation of factual material leaves some gaps. What were the actors in the play thinking as they went about their tasks? What were their motivations and experiences that bore on their actions and decisions? Did they carry prejudices or preconditioning that would lead to particular outcomes? How were gulfs in understanding generated by different languages and cultures dealt with? Using the documentary evidence as a basis, inferences may be drawn to fill these gaps. Here we must rely on the quality of analysis and argument being presented. Ways of writing and interpreting history change. Historians themselves may come under scrutiny. They may also disagree with one another. How then, under the circumstances, and in the face of competing narratives, have the subjects of this website fared?


Some context will be useful. For the nineteenth and much of the twentieth century knowledge of Henry Williams, and to an extent his family, was dominated by Hugh Carleton’s Life of Henry Williams, published in two volumes in 1874 and 1877. Carleton married Lydia Williams, daughter of Henry and Marianne, and was a vigorous defender of his father-in-law’s reputation. The biography reflects his admiration for his subject but nevertheless is well researched with information from contemporary and original sources, and has been frequently referred to by later authors. Apart from a brief sketch in 1895, William Williams and his family were not given biographical treatment until Through Ninety Years by F W Williams, published in 1939.[16] A number of works on the Williams family appeared in the second half of the twentieth century, reference to which is made throughout this web-site. Amongst these, Te Wiremu, A Biography of Henry Williams by L M Rogers, is a well researched account.


After the Second World War, a generation of historians, led by Keith Sinclair, created a new environment for the telling of New Zealand history, promoting a secular nationalism in which the influence of missionaries, and religion more broadly, were significantly downplayed. Further, the movement was said to regard Christianity as ‘pernicious' and, according to Sinclair, missionary ideas ‘destructive of Maori society’. These were simplistic assertions, later regarded as lacking evidence and a balanced approach.[17]


Nonetheless, he had a following, and there were unfortunate and persistent side effects, including the temptation to create cartoonish characters of the people under scrutiny. Less latitude was given to their foibles. The rigors of evangelical faith would be seen as a stultifying blanket over the extent and enjoyment of missionary lives. Deeply held religious conviction and evangelising apparently swamped all other thought and action. Errant parsons are easily lampooned. Sweeping characterizations found them “dressed like crows”, “joyless,”  “humourless,” and  “wowserish”.[18] If, by extension, this caricature was to be applied to their wives and children, it was not said how, or to what effect. Was there not one amongst them who enjoyed a joke, a glass of sherry, good conversation, songs around a piano, a birthday party, or a picnic?  Mockery short-changes our understanding of these people and is a poor substitute for a thorough examination of context.[19] Any deep reading of missionary correspondence and journals would refute these claims, which in any event have been challenged in subsequent historical literature.[20]


Particularly significant was Ruth Ross and her Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Texts and Translations published in 1972.[21] The work examines the texts of the English drafts of the Treaty and the translation of a version (presumed lost) into Maori by Henry Williams and his son Edward. From this, and from contemporary official and other sources, Ross draws inferences as to what took place at Waitangi, the intentions and abilities of those involved, and the understanding given to the Treaty by the two parties – Maori and the Crown. Praised by Keith Sinclair, her editor, her assertions were repeated, often uncritically, for some years after publication. All this was to have a profound impact on Treaty historiography and understanding of it by New Zealanders who had largely taken the Treaty for granted.


A close study of the wording of various drafts of the Treaty was long overdue. It led to claims of deficiencies in the translation. The translation into Maori, and its translators, took on great significance in this telling as the translation was, Ross said, ‘the’ Treaty, the one that Maori signed, and the one that was given lengthy oral explanation to them by Henry Williams.


Ross did not gloss over the chaotic nature of the Treaty drafting and signing, for which responsibility could be widely shared, and is not in dispute. But primary responsibility for the failings of its translation – and by implication the Treaty itself - she felt, belonged to Henry Williams.[22] Disparaging views on the former, and his son Edward who was co-translator, precede much of her translation analysis, thus setting them up to fail. Edward Williams was “a green young man of twenty-one” and while “his Maori was very probably more fluent than his father’s, his ignorance of English constitutional law and convention almost certainly greater” (than his father’s) – italics added. These statements about the intellectual capacity and competence of those involved needed more than bald assertion, especially to argue later for deliberate deceit, which implies an informed suppleness with the language and terminology that seems at odds with her suppositions.[23]


Ross noted at some length that Busby and Williams (as interpreter and translator) had “form” in that both were responsible for the Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes, of 1835. The Declaration was dismissed by her as irrelevant. However, modern interpretations have placed it with more authority in the evolution of New Zealand treaty writing.


Much of Ross’s criticism focuses on the use in Treaty translation, of what she terms ‘missionary Maori’. It was claimed that Maori understanding of their language used in the Treaty was strongly influenced by the contexts into which it was earlier translated and printed by the missionaries – those of religious texts, and their stories, rather than Maori oral traditions or their daily lives.[24] This view was later challenged by Lyndsay Head: 


“Ross posits something she calls ‘Protestant missionary Maori’ as the (inadequate) language of the Treaty, insufficiently comprehensible to Maori. A comparison of Maori and Pakeha writing in Maori fails to bear out this allegation, and, furthermore, carries an absurd implication that Maori were insufficiently flexible in their grasp of their own tongue to be able to cope with foreigners’ speaking of it”.[25]


Public and scholarly interest in the Treaty grew. Claudia Orange’s book, The Treaty of Waitangi (1987) took a more moderate view of the actions of Busby and Williams, and this work was followed by a succession of others. A number of these are quoted in a comprehensive review of Ross’s work by Rachel Bell in 2009.[26] This acknowledges the importance of her work in its thorough examination of Treaty documents, but found that there were subjective elements in her analysis, she was hypercritical, and used emotive language to make her case.[27] Lyndsay Head (also quoted by Bell and others) challenged Ross’s analysis as ‘linguistic essentialism’ and found parts of her findings on Henry Williams ‘implausible’ and the analysis ‘paranoic’.[28] Belgrave was another who sought to free the Treaty from the ‘tyranny of textual and legally driven analysis’.[29] As Head put it: “It is a phenomenon of historiography that suspicion about translation is routinely advanced by researchers who are dependent on it for their understanding”. [30]



The traffic was not all one way as later advocates for Maori sovereignty and those making Treaty claims saw support for their interests in Ross’s interpretations, and a few continued to see Henry Williams as a manipulative figure translating the Treaty for his own interests.[31]-[32] However there is an abundance of primary material written by him and others, as well as more recent comment, that suggests that this was both an unlikely intention and an unlikely outcome. A recent study of the English text of the Treaty, and the context in which it was drawn up, concluded that the English and Maori texts appear to reconcile, lending further support to Henry Williams’ translation.[33]


A report on a hearing conducted by the Waitangi Tribunal, published in 2014, reverted to Ross orthodoxy in reaching its conclusions about the Treaty, although it acknowledged the difficulties Henry Williams faced in carrying out the translation.[34] Although it examined many sources, its findings as a writing of New Zealand history need to be treated with caution. As said about the Tribunal, it is “obliged by statute, not only to find fault in the past, but to also advise on practical remedies for the future”. [35]


Today, the world has moved on. Acts of Parliament, and Court and Tribunal decisions have recognized the Treaty as one of principles to be applied, rather than the literal words in two languages that were not capable of precise translations of each other and therefore “do not necessarily convey precisely the same meaning.” [36]


Since the signing, developments and changes have taken place that could not possibly have been foreseen at the time. In evidence before the Court of Appeal, Sir Henare Ngata stated:  “ A contentious matter such as the Treaty will yield to those who study of it whatever they seek. If they look for difficulties and obstacles they will find them. If they are prepared to regard it as an obligation of honour, they will find that the Treaty is well capable of implementation.” [37]


There is little question that Henry Williams was a key figure in the translation of the Treaty and its presentation to Maori. There is also no doubt that he was supportive of the Treaty and its terms, and encouraged Maori to sign. Academic opinion continues to be divided over his use of some terms in the translation, although modern scholarship tends to support him. That he was motivated by goodwill and concern for Maori seems consistent with what we know of his character. In spite of his efforts Maori went away with an imperfect understanding of the Treaty’s terms, and the impacts of that misunderstanding, seen later, can come as no surprise. Bafflement over wording in formal legal documents is, even today, a commonplace. No amount of explanation at the time would have solved the problems of unfamiliar concepts and unpredictable outcomes – much less anticipate the future perfidy of Government. The post-Treaty meshing of concepts and expectations was bound to be problematic, unpredictable, and unable to be prescribed for in a document of this nature. On balance, he did as much as could be expected of him. 


[1] pp. 231-234, Carleton, H. 1874. The Life of Henry Williams, v.I, Upton and Co., Auckland. Similar views were expressed by other missionaries, and in 1838 there was already official recognition of the need for some sort of British presence in New Zealand.

[2] Despite numerous suggestions of other missionary names for the task, it is impossible from this distance to apply a credible comparative test of linguistic skill. In some ways Henry Williams was an inevitable choice. Leaving aside linguistic ability, his authority, and the respect in which he was held by most Maori gave him an edge over other contenders.

[3] It is sometimes overlooked that two processes were in play: translation, which provides a documentary record, and interpreting that is an oral exchange, with the character of explanation, not all of which could be recorded. There were, quite literally, hours of taxing debate. Post-facto judgments about Henry Williams’ language skills are guesswork or rely on the later translations of others and, although he envied his brother’s linguistic ease, seventeen years of working with Maori in Te Reo, discussing complex matters on a daily basis, gives him some credibility. It is true that he was diffident about his language skills in the early years - but this was 1840, not 1823. Neither Robert Maunsell nor William Williams, cited by modern authors as potentially superior translators, later raised serious objections to the Treaty terms or the translation. Competent though these two were, neither would have been seen to have leadership qualities and mana sufficient to satisfy the parties involved.

[4] p. 75, Ward J, 2011, loc.cit. Colenso was a witness to some of the purchase deeds. Te Kemera was one of a number of co-owners of land sold to Henry Williams, and he put his name to the deed of purchase. See ‘Williams and Land’ on this website.

[5] Apparently as a consequence of disquieting comments from the colonists. He reassured the Chiefs that “…(Maori) would become one people with the English, in the suppression of wars and every lawless act; under one Sovereign, and one Law, human and divine”. P. 14, Carleton, H. 1877. The Life of Henry Williams, v.2. Wilson and Horton, Auckland. 364 pp. In the absence of any written record of this meeting, this is the only hint of what transpired. Notwithstanding, later writers have imagined what might have been said in order to fill the void.

[6] Colenso, W, 1890. The Authentic and Genuine History of the Signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand, February 5 and 6, 1840: Being a faithful and circumstantial, though brief, narration of events which happened on that memorable occasion; with copies of the Treaty in English and Maori, and of the three early proclamations respecting the founding of the colony,Wellington: Government Printer, 36 pp. The notes, memorandum, and publication were in English.

[7] pp. iii, 104.105.109. Ward, J, 2011. Fact or Fiction? William Colenso’s Authentic and Genuine History of the Signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.MA Thesis, Massey University, Albany. Including his long-standing personal animosity towards Williams, objection to his landholdings, and desire to adversely report Williams’ role in Waitangi proceedings to the Church Missionary Society. In his later (1890) reworking of his notes, Colenso attempted to mitigate some of his remarks.

[8] pp. 11-15, Carleton, H., 1877. The Life of Henry Williams, Archdeacon of Waimate.V.II. Wilson and Horton, Auckland, 364 pp + appendices.

[9] p. 113, Porter, F. 1974. The Turanga Journals. Price Milburn and Victoria University Press, 659 pp.

[10]William Williams was at Waimate during the drafting of the 1835 Declaration of Independence, but was not called on for translation then. Although Maunsell may have seen a copy in Maori, he sought signatures with the English version.

[11] Which raises the question, given that the majority of chiefs who signed were not at Waitangi, and were not part of the discussion led by Henry Williams - about which there has been much discussion, analysis and speculation- what were the explanations and understandings arrived at in these other locations? 

[12] pp. 435, 436, Porter, F. 1974, loc. cit.

[13] pp. 68-70, Ward J, 2011, loc. cit.

[14] p. 248, Ericsson, K.A., 2010. Expertise in Interpreting- an expert-performance perspective. In: Shreve, G M, and Angelone E, Eds. Translation and Cognition. John Benjamin Publishing, Amsterdam and Philadelphia, 381 pp.

[15] Neologisms – words coined because there was no term in Maori that equated to the English. In this case kawanatanga, the subject of considerable academic and political argument.

[16] A biographical pamphlet as part of a series on CMS workers: Headland, E. 1895. The Right Rev. William Williams, D.C.L., Bishop of Waiapu, New Zealand; C.M.S. Missionary from 1825 to 1878.James Nisbet, London. 16 pp.

[17] A situation reviewed in detail by Stenhouse, J. 2004. God’s Own Silence. Secular Nationalism, Christianity and the Writing of New Zealand History. New Zealand Journal of History, 38, 1: 53-71. This was a sharply critical review that highlighted the lack of understanding of context.

[18] e.g. p. 135, Belich, J., 1996. Making Peoples. Allen Lane, Auckland, 497 pp. Instead of  “embalming the evidence poor historians need to read in tedious preaching” missionaries (and their wives) provided troves of evidence in the form of letters, journals and other documents, of the sort that historians might want to read.

[19] Views of historians sometimes pass into an unrestrained vernacular. Examples are Clunie, F. 1998, Historic Bay of Islands – A Driving Tour. Reed Books and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. Wellington. 31 pp., as much a rant about missionaries as it was a motoring guide, and Wells, P. 2011, The Hungry Heart, Journeys with William Colenso. Vintage, Wellington: p.92, in which there was gratuitous speculation about the sexual proclivities of missionaries, including the Williams brothers and their wives.

[20] Brooking. T, 2005: http://nzbooks.org.nz/2005/non-fiction/pioneering-efforts-tom-brooking/) . It is possible to disapprove of missionaries and their activities in general, but still adhere to historical fact.

[21] Ross, R. 1972. Te Tiriti o Waitangi, texts and translations. New Zealand Journal of History, 6(2): 129-157.

[22] Busby was also trenchantly criticized, his earlier Declaration of Independence, 1835, included. A more rounded treatment of Busby is given by Orange, C., 1990. Busby, James 1802-1871.  The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Allen and Unwin and the Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington. B54, B55.

[23] Ross’s analysis of Henry Williams’ education, family circumstances, experience, and broader context is superficial given the insinuations in her paper. Much relevant context is covered in Carpenter, S.D. Te Wiremu, Te Puhipi, He Wakaputanga me te Tiriti; Henry Williams, James Busby, a Declaration and the Treaty. A Report Commissioned by  the Waitangi Tribunal. Wai 1040#A17. 206 pp. Further context is available on this website.

[24] Ironically, literacy in England was greatly assisted by the singular presence in households of the English translation of the Bible, and possibly other texts with religious themes if they could afford them – many could not. Sunday schools and church schools, promoted literacy through scriptural learning. The literacy rate did not increase much beyond 50% until the early 19thC.

[25] See  p. 16, Head, L., 2006. Land, Authority and Forgetting of Being in Early Maori Colonial History. PhD thesis, University of Canterbury, 326pp. 

[26] Bell, R. 2009. ‘Texts and Translations’ – Ruth Ross and the Treaty of Waitangi. New Zealand Journal of History, 43 (1): 39-58.

[27] p. 52. Bell, R. 2009. Loc. cit.

[28] pp. 105,108. Head, L. 2001. The Pursuit of Modernity in Maori Society: The Conceptual Bases of Citizenship in the Early Colonial Period. In Sharp, A., and McHugh, P. (eds.) Histories, Power and Loss, Uses of the Past – A New Zealand Commentary. Bridget Williams Books, Wellington.

[29] p. 55, Belgrave, M. 2005.Historical Frictions: Maori Claims and Reinvented Histories.Auckland University Press. Auckland.

[30] p.16. Head, L. 2006. Land, authority and the forgetting of being in early Maori colonial history. PhD thesis, University of Canterbury. 350pp.

[31] p.45. Belgrave, M. 2005. Historical Frictions: Maori Claims and Reinvented Histories. Auckland University Press, Auckland.  He finds that the Treaty has meant “different things at different times to different people” reflecting the agendas of the proponents of various interpretations.

[32] Most notably in: Moon, P. and Fenton, S. 2002. Bound into a Fateful Union: Henry Williams’ Translation of the Treaty of Waitangi into Maori in February 1840. Journal of the Polynesian Society.111(1): 57-63. Almost entirely devoted to the misdeeds of Henry Williams (it accused him of deliberate mistranslation of the Treaty, manipulation, and called him a ‘traitor’) the paper was regarded as a piece of ‘advocacy’ (by Laurie, J. 2002. Translating the Treaty of Waitangi. Journal of the Polynesian Society.111(2): 255-258) and challenged on a number of points by Parkinson, P. 2006. ‘Preserved in the Archives of the Colony’: The English Drafts of the Treaty of Waitangi. New Zealand Association for Comparative Law and Revue Juridique Polynesienne Cahier, Special Monograph: pp.31-44.

[33] Fletcher, N. 2014.A praiseworthy device for pacifying savages? : what the framers meant by the English text of the Treaty of Waitangi. PhD thesis, University of Auckland, Faculty of Law. 2v. 1079pp. 

[34] p. 512, He Wakaputanga me te Tiriti. The Declaration and the Treaty. Report on Stage 1 of the Paparahi Enquiry. Wai 1040. Waitangi Tribunal Report, 2014. Pts 1&2, 574 pp.

[35] p. 216, Byrnes, G. 2006. By Which Standards? History and the Waitangi Tribunal: A Reply. New Zealand Journal of History, 40 (2): pp: 214-229. In The Waitangi Tribunal and New Zealand History, 2004, Oxford University Press, Byrnes argued that Tribunal history was “a worthy but ultimately flawed experiment” and that its historical writings have post-colonial tendencies, are deeply political and overwhelmingly focused on the present.

[36] Judgment of Cooke P, New Zealand Maori Council v. Attorney-General(1987), p. 31. NZLII.

[37] Judgment of Richardson J, New Zealand Maori Council v. Attorney-General(1987), p. 15. NZLII.

Treaty drafting and signing
How history has seen Henry Williams

Treaty of Waitangi, signed at Waitingi by 43 Chiefs on 6.2.1840, others added later to a total of 213. Henry Williams signed as a witness on 9.2.1840.


New Zealand Archives, Ref. IA 9/9 

Bronze plaque depicting stylised signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, by Edward Drury, affixed to the memorial to Queen Victoria on her death in 1901, unveiled 1905, now located between Kent and Cambridge Terraces, Wellington. Henry Williams second from right at rear. The image was used for the reverse of the ten-shilling note, 1940-67.

Treaty of Waitangi, East Coast Sheet, signed by 41 Chiefs. Witnessed by William Williams and Henry Williams Jun.

Archives New Zealand: Ref. IA 9/9

Treaty of Waitangi, Ruakawa Moana, Cook Strait Sheet, signed by 132 Chiefs.  Witnessed by Henry Williams.

Archives New Zealand: Ref. IA9/9

​© 2013 H & W Williams Memorial Museum Trust.  All rights reserved.


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