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Declaration of the Independence of New Zealand

From Academic Kids

A Declaration of the Independence of New Zealand was the title of a declaration of independence of the "United Tribes of New Zealand", drafted by the official British Resident of New Zealand, James Busby, and signed by himself and 35 Maori chiefs at Waitangi on October 28, 1835.

The document was a response to concerns over the lawlessness of British subjects in New Zealand and to a fear that France would declare sovereignty over the islands. It also arose from a desire in Maori society to establish a form of Maori government.

The hereditary chiefs and heads of the tribes of the Northern parts of New Zealand declared the constitution of an independent state. They agreed to meet in Waitangi each year to frame laws, and invited the southern tribes of New Zealand to "lay aside their private animosities" and join them.

A copy of the document was sent to the King of the United Kingdom, asking him to be the protector of the new state.

However the claim to independence is often considered only to have lasted until the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, but this is contentious. Article 2 of Te Tiriti of Waitangi, or the Treaty of Waitangi, guarantees to the chiefs, their continued chieftainship, and ownership of their lands and treasures (taonga). It also specifies that Maori will sell land only to the Crown. The Treaty of Waitangi is widely considered the founding document of the nation of New Zealand/Aotearoa, with formal sovereignty vested in the British crown, but the existence of different versions of this treaty, in both Maori and English, and its brevity, leave this subject to arguments over the preferred interpretation. However, the de facto situation was that the federation of independent tribes was subsumed into a new political body, regardless of the legality or legitimacy of this. The Declaration of the Independence of New Zealand was thus voided for all practical purposes and it is the Treaty of Waitangi that is the foundation of claims for the redress of historical wrongs, rather than the Declaration of Independence. For this reason, the Declaration of Independence is considered to be a historical document that no longer has legal force.

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