National Tangata Tiriti Educators Conference 2006
Hamilton October 27-29
Educators challenge attacks on Treaty
A major national Treaty educators' conference over the weekend challenged the latest attempts to undermine the status of
the Treaty of Waitangi.
The conference – attended by more than 40 community and institution based educators - marked 20 years of Treaty
education undertaken since the launch of Project Waitangi. Project Waitangi, initially funded by the government, was
established to raise awareness of the Treaty in the lead up to the 150th anniversary of the signing in 1990.
But spokeswoman Mitzi Nairn said the work of Treaty educators is still being undermined by what appears to be a
deliberate campaign to sideline the Treaty - including emphasis being given to an English text which incorrectly states
that Maori ceded sovereignty to the Crown.
“New Zealanders have nothing to fear from acknowledging the Maori text of the Treaty which clearly shows that Maori
retained their sovereignty while also allowing the Crown to exercise a form of governance.”
“In 1840 the only one confused was Governor Hobson who believed that the treaty he signed was the same one as the treaty
of cession he had drafted.
“We are alarmed that visitors to Te Papa and the Treaty 2 U Roadshow, for example, are not given a correct translation
of the Treaty, but are instead shown an English text as if it were a direct translation. In our experience, people
readily accept the major differences in the two texts and feel empowered by being able to compare them.
“Rather than creating confusion, for many this understanding is the key to unlocking the historical puzzle, creating a
balanced framework from which to view the effects of colonisation which form the basis of our current cultural and
In international law the meaning of treaties written in indigenous languages are given preference over texts in the
Ms Nairn, former director of the Conference of Churches Aotearoa/New Zealand Programme Opposing Racism, said the
original aim of Project Waitangi was to undertake adult education over four years. However, educators had continued
working to meet demand as schools had not been able to deliver comprehensive Treaty understanding to succeeding
“We are alarmed that the new draft New Zealand curriculum document barely refers to the Treaty, which means we won’t be
able to retire anytime soon. With the Treaty Information Unit of the State Services Commission also now closed down,
we’re back at square one.”
“There have been Treaty teaching resources available to schools, but these have emphasized an English text and obviously
this cannot provide any real understanding of the issue.”
She said the conference had also been deeply concerned at the Government’s continued opposition to the United Nations
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; as well as their support for the Deletion of the Principles of the
Treaty of Waitangi Bill now before Parliament.
The conference marked the 171st anniversary of the signing of the precursor to the Treaty, the Declaration of the
Independence of New Zealand by the Confederation of United Tribes.
“It is a tragedy that most New Zealanders are still unaware of this important political statement made by Maori in 1835
which was recognised internationally - another document that it appears Te Papa would prefer us not to know much about.”
She said independent Tauiwi Treaty educators could be contacted through Citizens Advice Bureaux, Peace Movement
Aotearoa, the Treaty Resource Centre, or email TreatyPeople@yahoogroups.com.