Prior to the Treaty of Waitangi being signed, there were significant events that occurred before the signing between the Tangata Whenua also known as the Maori and the Tauwi known as the British settlers.
The first British settler to explore New Zealand was Abel Tasman in the late December of 1642, later mapped out by European James Cook in 1749. New Zealand has come a long way since then thanks to key events that were essential in making sure New Zealand became a safe civilized country. The British wanted sovereignty of NZ and one of the first key events into being successful was the establishment of the New Zealand flag. James Busby was sent to New Zealand in 1833 as a British citizen, the British authority ordered Busby to work with Maori chief leaders to design a ‘settled form of government’. James saw this event as a way to motivate the Maori to perform together, on the date of March 1834, 25 of Maori chiefs assembled in front Busby’s home at Waitangi to agree on a flag to portray New Zealand. Each individual of the Maori leaders came ahead, at a time to agree on a flag, while the votes were being tallied. The most well-liked drawing, a flag that had already been used before by the Church Missionary Society, seemingly collected 12 votes, the other two choices favoured by 10 Maori and three chiefs. Busby declared that the new flag chosen would consist of, four red bands within the Union Jack symbol among a white background. This was an essential part to the signing of the Treaty because the flag gave it more meaning and independence as a country, it is more than just a piece of fabric, it is sacred and holds great significance. (United Tribes Flag, 2016). I think this event was critical because New Zealand would not be the same without something meaningful for us to represent, New Zealanders portray our flag everywhere and proudly show it off at many events for anything and anybody that take pride in our country. How this event contributed to the signing of the Treaty was because our flag was a way for Maori tribes to unite therefore it was called “Flag of the Independent Tribes of New Zealand”. The key people involved with creating our flag were obviously James Busby, The Maori and King William IV for approving the flag.
Soon after the putting together of the New Zealand flag was The Declaration of Independence in 1835. The British grew concerned about the Frenchs appeal in New Zealand. This was aggravated by Baron Charles de Thierry proclaiming himself as ‘Sovereign Chief’ of New Zealand when he seized ownership of land he declared he had bought in the Hokianga. Again, James Busby arranged a gathering at his home in Waitangi where 34 Maori leaders signed ‘Declaration of the Independence of New Zealand’ and formed an ‘Alliance of the New Zealand Tribes’. (Declaration of Independence of New Zealand, 2018). The Declaration contained 4 articles: The first article, the chiefs revealed New Zealand a ‘whenua rangatira’ (sovereign country), second mentioned that the ‘kingitanga’ (ruler power) was supported mutually by the chiefs, the third article stated a huihuinga (meeting) would assemble in autumn each year to make laws and settlements. lastly the fourth proclaimed that in addition of the Declaration would be posted to the King of England and requested to be an overseer of the small state. (Keane, 2012). I believe this event was essential because it suggested that the British would protect New Zealand from other countries that tried to take power over, and the Maori would continue to remain in charge of all their land and the people that settled there. This was a strong contribution towards the signing of the Treaty because without it we may have been taken over by other countries that could have created many difficulties for New Zealand such as wars. This way with The Declaration of Independence it confirmed that this was a country that was not allowed to be taken over. The key people involved in this was again James Busby with the help of Henry Williams and William Colenso, the Maori and again the King.
The last event contributing towards the signing of the Treaty was the drafting of 3 specific articles. The purpose of these was to ensure that the British would obey certain requests from the Maori. There were two different versions, an English and a Maori so it would be understood by both parties. The first article contained governance/sovereignty, the second included that The Queen of England consents to secure the leaders, the subtribes and all the people of New Zealand in the unsuitable movement of their chieftainship above their lands, villages and all their valuables. The Maori leaders of the Confederation and all the chiefs will dispose of land to the Queen at an asking price according to by the fellow owning it and by the person purchasing it determined by the Queen as her acquire representative. The last article contained the Queens promise to keep all the standard citizens of New Zealand safe and will acquire them the same entitlement and responsibilities of citizenship as the people of England. (Wilson, 2016). I think that the event of the three articles played an important role in the signing of Treaty of Waitangi because it ensured the Maori value of the way they took leadership in their country and how they looked after the land would not change, in which made them feel more secure in signing the treaty and having the British settle with in New Zealand. Additionally, creating the three articles contributed massively in convincing the Maori that their land and people would not be taken over. Over all, the articles outline how they want their society to run sensibly. The people that took significant roles in this event were the Maori, the British and the Queen of England.