By Andy Oakley
Recently on her Villainesse blog, Lizzie Marvelly suggested she could write a thesis on the many. many problems with Hobson’s Pledge.
For those who are unaware of who Lizzie is, she is a singer songwriter turned journalist who began a global campaign to spark conversation about sexual violence, victim-blaming, revenge porn and consent.
For reasons best known to her, Lizzie describes herself as a white skinned Maori. It would appear all this expertise and ethnicity qualifies her to be an expert on all things Maori. I am less interested in what colour she is or what conversations she wishes to spark but about how she has become an expert on everything.
Well, everything except New Zealand history and the Te Tiriti o Waitangi that is.
Lizzie listed 24 different things that were wrong with Hobsons Pledge. All of them could easily be discredited but for clarity I will deal with just three.
1) Lizzie wrote that Hobson’s Pledge “completely ignores the fact that the Treaty guaranteed Māori “tino rangatiratanga” (complete chieftainship) over their lands, villages, property and treasures”.
I have to point out that:
- Te Tiriti is addressed to all the people of New Zealand written as “ki nga tangata katoa o Nu Tirani”. There is no guarantee to Maori.
- In 1840, the word for “treasured possession” in the native language was “Kahurangi” this word does not appear in Te Tiriti.
- In 1840 the word “taonga” was a noun for Property, anything highly prized i.e. something tangible.
- The word “rangitiratanga” was used twice in Te Tiriti, once in the preamble and once in article two. In the English draft both times the reference is to either in the preamble “their land” or in article two “the possession of their lands, dwellings and property”. The word clearly relates to ownership and in fact if you enter the word “ownership” into the online Maori Dictionary, there it is, the word “rangatiratanga”.
- The word “tino” is an accentuating or qualifying word and in the case of “tino rangatiritanga” as used in te tiriti it simply means “complete ownership”, not complete chieftainship
- It is obviously impossible to cede sovereignty to the Queen of England and also retain authority to do whatever one pleases as a chief.
2) Lizzie claims that Hobson’s Pledge “fails to appropriately recognise the differences between the two versions of the Treaty of Waitangi, most pertinently the difference of meaning between Kawanatanga and Sovereignty”.
- This one is easy. There are not two versions of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. James Freeman’s version is not Te Tiriti o Waitangi and was not read to any chiefs in 1840. It is irrelevant.
3) Lizzie wrote that Hobson’s Pledge “neglects to consider the fact that the rights and protections guaranteed to Māori under the Treaty of Waitangi were repeatedly denied and usurped by successive governments over generations”.
- Considering Lizzie asserts we should all speak te reo I am at a loss as to why she continues to use the term “Treaty of Waitangi” rather than “Te Tiriti o Waitangi”. However, as Te Tiriti does not mention a collective group called Maori (with a capital ‘M’), and because Te Tiriti o Waitangi is addressed to all the people of New Zealand in the preamble, and more specifically in article two property rights are promised to all New Zealanders, written as “ki nga tangata katoa o Nu Tirani”, rights and protection are clearly NOT guaranteed to Maori but to everyone.
While Lizzie is quick assert Maori could not have understood the treaty in 1840, she is quicker to use modern day meanings of words, interpretations and made up principles to forward her baseless argument.
It is this ignorant propensity, also used by the media, which tortures New Zealand’s history to such an extent that it is barely recognizable.
Andy Oakley is the author of "Cannons Creek to Waitangi".