Historic Grounds at Paihia
Close to Paihia the treaty of Waitangi was signed on the grounds of the Busby’s residence at Waitangi, overlooking the Bay of Islands, destination for various tours.
|Waka showcased on Waitangi grounds|
In 1840 New Zealand was still largely in control of Maori people. However rivalry started springing up between the Maori chiefs and the increasing number of Europeans on the islands. There was worry that a disagreement would come, over land sales. As well as that the French or Americans would claim control about the country.
Underlying intentions were that the Queen of England should govern New Zealand. Meanwhile the right over land should remain with the Maori people. Granted were too, the rights and privileges of British subjects. Nobody knows how well the chiefs understood the treaty since the Maori language comes from a very different perspective.
During the 5th of February, the treaty was read out and discussed just outside the Busby’s house, known in present time as the Waitangi house. An official signing should take place on the 7th. However food in the Maori camps ran short. This news was brought to the attention of Captain William Hobson who was chosen to act as Governor of New Zealand. He decided to arrange the official signing on the afternoon of the 6th, with already declining participants of the gathering.
To attain signatures of tribal chiefs in other parts of New Zealand 7 copies were prepared and Hobson’s assistants set out to obtain as many as possible.
Soon after the signing of the treaty of Waitangi, trouble broke out amid some of the Maori chiefs and settlers regarding a piece of land. The settlers asserting that they had bought the land and the Maori argued otherwise. The debut ended up with the settlers sending out armed troops to arrest their opponents. In battle the settlers accidentally shot Te Rangihaeta’s wife. Eventually the settlers surrendered to Rangihaeta, who in vengeance for his wife ordered to kill them.
Infuriated the settlers demanded their arrest. Governor Fitzroy who replaced Hobson brought temporary peace with the Maori since he believed this escalated situation a result of the settler’s own thoughtlessness. Nonetheless similar savage behaviour between the Maoris and the settlers mapped history.
Some historical references try to capture the full impact of the negotiations about the treaty in the past and why some points are still matter for negotiations to the present day.
To commemorate the signing of the treaty of Waitangi and its historic importance the 6th February received the status of public holiday. A day all New Zealand celebrates as the Waitangi Day. As one of the yearly events thousands come to the Bay of Islands for the long weekend to stay in Paihia or to stay in Russell. They come together for the festivities on the Waitangi Grounds and to tour the Bay of Islands.