Te Tiriti o Waitangi - Treaty of Waitangi

TreatyOn 6 February 1840, an agreement between the British Crown and Maori, known as The Treaty of Waitangi was signed by representatives of the Crown and Maori chiefs and became New Zealand's founding document.

Maori believed the Crown had a responsibility under the Treaty to ensure the survival of Maori Language. In 1985 the Waitangi Tribunal gave consideration to the Te Reo Maori Claim (Wai 11) lodged by Nga Kaiwhakapumau i te Reo (The Maori Language Board of Wellington) which sought recognition of the Maori language as an official language of New Zealand, and for all purposes.

The Waitangi Tribunal report of 1986 acknowledged Maori language as a 'taonga' under Article II of the Treaty and that the Crown therefore has a responsibility for its preservation.

As a result of the Treaty claim, the Maori Language Act 1987 was passed:

  • declaring Maori language to be an official language of New Zealand;
  • conferring the right to speak Maori in certain legal proceedings; and
  • establishing the Maori Language Commission.

In addition, the claim made recommendations in terms of education, broadcasting and State Services. As a result of these recommendations, a number of initiatives have been implemented which have seen the growth of Maori language schools and tertiary educational institutions, the establishment of iwi radio stations, and the introduction of Maori television.