Monday, February 06, 2017

Treaty of Waitangi

Today is Waitangi Day in New Zealand. On this day in 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the British Crown and the Maori chiefs of the tribes of New Zealand. This country was unique, because the indigenous people were not conquered, rather the British settlers and the Maori tribes reached agreement on how they could live together.

This was a brilliant start. I cannot think of any other country in the world where such a thing happened.

Unfortunately, the British settlers did not carry on the way that they began. They got greedy for land and brought in the troops to defeat Maori who were unwilling to sell their land. Land confiscations continued up until the First World War. In one large city, land was taken while the adult men were away in Europe fighting for the British.

Fortunately, that was not the end of the story. Over the last half century, successive government have negotiated treaty settlements to make restitution for the stolen land. I explain the reasons why this restitution is important in an article called the Treaty of Waitangi.

The process has not been perfect. But it has bought peace between the races, something which is missing in many parts of the world.

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