On 28 October 1835, 34 Māori rangatira (chiefs) at Waitangi, Bay of Islands, signed He W[h]akaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni, also known as the Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand (although the Declaration - the English language text - is different and not what the rangatira signed). He Whakaputanga was drawn up by Northern rangatira and the official British Resident James Busby, as part of an ongoing conversation forged by Māori with the Crown. By 1839 a total of 52 rangatira had signed the Māori text document, including rangatira outside of Ngāpuhi.
Its four sections declared Aotearoa a sovereign state, and that full sovereign power and authority resided in Te Whakaminenga o Ngā Hapū o Nu Tireni, often translated as the General Assembly of Hapū or Confederation of United Tribes.
He Whakaputanga (and in turn the sovereignty of the rangatira) was recognised by British authorities in 1836; hence the need to negotiate further relationships with te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Whether He Whakaputanga has any standing today is the subject of ongoing constitutional debate. These range from the view that the Treaty of Waitangi extinguished any sovereignty of the chiefs recognised in the Declaration, and is therefore nothing more than an interesting historical document; to the view that Māori never gave up sovereignty by signing te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Māori documents signed by the majority of rangatira), and that the sovereignty acknowledged in He Whakaputanga is reaffirmed in its family document, te Tiriti.
You can view the names of those who signed at the NZ History website:
He Whakaputanga is now on display at the National Library: natlib.govt.nz/he-tohu
More information can be found in the Waitangi Tribunal Report on He Whakaputanga: www.justice.govt.nz/tribunals/waitangi-tribunal/Reports/h...
Archives New Zealand Reference: IA1 9/1/1a (page 1 of 3)
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