2. Treaty of Waitangi


It is an interesting exercise to actually read the Maori version of the Treaty, especially the part where the Queen guarantees certain rights.

While she guarantees them to the Chiefs and Tribes, for some rarely discussed reason, she also guaranteed them ki nga tangata katoa o Nu Tirani (to all the people of New Zealand). A full reading of the Maori version makes it clear this meant every one of us, not just Maori and accordingly it appears so in Sir Hugh Kawharu's translation on government websites.

And what did the Queen guarantee? If we can stay out of the politics of it, there were four values that Maori held dear, but they are not solely Maori values, they are human values as articulated by Maori:

  • Tino Rangatiratanga is translated by Sir Hugh Kawharu as chieftainship, which is a way in which people take care of their own affairs. In fact, Bishop Vercoe pointed out to us that ranga is a word for weaving, tira is a word for choir and tanga is a word that refers to people within a community. Thus, the leadership principle, Bishop Vercoe explained, is about weaving the people into the harmony of a choir... and anyone watching a highly skilled rangatira conducting a hui will see how such personal, face-to-face leadership works. While the Auckland Council is called local government, its very size has created a vacuum in local leadership. No matter how talented its staff, no matter how well educated or committed, they cannot sort out local matters. There is a deep need in all societies to sort out their own affairs. It was articulated in the Treaty and remarkably, it was guaranteed to All the People of New Zealand. It's not local government, but local governance. It's not about law, but about protocols to enable local people to sort out their own affairs. As we are social beings, it's part of our human nature.
  • Whenua: The second value is that of wenua (whenua) translated as land, but the understanding of land not as a commodity to be exploited, but as essential to life as the placenta is to the foetus. In the RMA, the purpose statement speaks about safeguarding the life-supporting capacity of air, water, soil, and ecosystems. The Queen guaranteed this right to all the people of New Zealand, and we are wise to learn from our elders of this land, nga tangata whenua, that this protecting the land, air, water, soil and ecosystems is a responsibility of us as individuals and as a society - and by us to future generations.
  • Kainga: The third value is what this website proposes: the kainga. The common locality of Maori was the village - a cohesive social unit in which people know each other, support each other and in doing so enable individuals and families to meet their needs and pursue their aspirations. That social structure is fundamental to human nature, and we find people are healthier - both physically and mentally - when they live in such communities. How remarkable that this right of the people of New Zealand to create and live in villages is guaranteed by the Treaty.
  • Taonga: While pre-colonial Maori society did not use the medium of money, today we do. Taonga katoa, however, is not money. Money is a medium, but in itself it only has value because people accept it in exchange for goods or services. Taonga is wealth creation and wealth preservation, with a very broad definition of wealth - including lore, art, language, and all that is valued by a people. It is our "values". In the process of forming communities, the question of what is Taonga becomes an important part of the public discourse.

As can be seen by this discussion, there are two ways to look at the Treaty. One determines who has Maori blood, who can recite their tribal identity and ancestry, and then accords treaty rights to them as agreed to by the Queen in 1840.

The other acknowledges that something remarkable happened in the long history of British Common Law... in New Zealand it married a very different tradition: law married lore to create a new nation. As we struggle with the reparations, the sins and crimes of previous generations, we realise the Maori version of the treaty has a promise for anyone in Nu Tirani (New Zealand) who embraces it. It is not a message of treaty claims, but of treaty potential.

Imagine an Aotearoa / New Zealand where communities are structured in ways that their people take care of their own, where they respect the life-giving capacity of the planet, where they live in face-to-face communities with a high level of human connection, and where they possess and understand true wealth. Whether by accident or intent, in the Maori version of the treaty, those words are there. They may be the way to build the world's most liveable city.

It should be noted that from 1998, when the MarketTown concept first began to emerge, Maori had and continue to have a very strong influence in its framework.