Learning New Zealand The Big Trip

The (alternative) treaty of Waitangi

The Flags at Waitangi
Written by Kirstie Pelling

From:       Kirstie
Date:        12th April 2005
Subject:   The (alternative) treaty of Waitangi
Place:      Waitangi, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Kirstie Profile Small While in Waitangi it seemed only reasonable we should try and give the kids a history lesson, explain the significance of this place, in terms they could understand, perhaps by getting them to make a treaty of their own. But it wasn’t quite as simple as it sounded…

The (alternative) treaty of Waitangi

The Flags at Waitangi

The Flags at Waitangi, where the treaty was signed

OK Let’s begin…

“Ok Matthew and Cameron, we’re here. This is Waitangi. This is where a famous Treaty was signed many years ago between the Maori and the…”

“What’s a treaty Mum?”

“I want a treaty. Does it have treats in it Mummy? Like a lemonade popsicle or a sweetie?”

“No, no treats.”

“Then why is it called a treaty Mum?”

“Treaty rhymes with sweetie, Mummy.”

“Yes it does rhyme Cam, but there was definitely no sweeties in it. Anyway, many years ago the Maori people came here in canoes from the Polynesian islands and settled here ”

“Did they came in kayak’s too?”

“No, not kayak’s. Wooden canoes, waka, made out of Kauri trees.”

“Oh. What’s a Kauri tree?”

“An ancient pine that’s native to New Zealand. Look like the one just here.”


Kauri Tree

Is this a Kauri tree mummy?

Then the British came and…

“Then later the British and the Europeans came….”

“In kayaks Mummy?”

“No. No one came in kayaks Cam.”

“Why not Mum?”

“Well Matthew, because kayaks weren’t invented then.”

“Why not?”

“Because the Maori’s made big canoes out of wood and the Brits sailed in big boats.”

“Bigger than a kayak?”

“Much bigger than a kayak.”


“But they didn’t always get along very well.”

“Who didn’t Mum?”

“The British and the Maori’s, and many of the Maori tribes were fighting within themselves too.”

“What’s a British Mummy?”

“Someone who comes from Britain.”

“Like me and Cameron?”


“Did they hit each other and push like me and Cameron?”

“Sometimes. So they decided to sign something to say they’d be nice to each other.”

They wanted to be nice to each other??


“So they could live together nicely. They signed what is called a treaty. One copy was written in Maori, and the other English.”


“Because they spoke different languages.”


“Because they came from different places.”

“In a kayak?”

“No Cameron, Mum already said they came in a waka didn’t you Mum. Cameron is stupid. Was it like this one?”

Maori Canoe Waitangi

A waka like this Mum? At the Maori Canoe Waitangi

Now, now boys….

“Not stupid. You stupid and filthy.”

“Mum, Cameron just hit me.”

“Ow, Matthew hit me.”

“We need a treaty in this family, so we can coexist in peace. God would I like a bit of peace.”

“And I want a treat.”

“And I want a sweetie.”

“Get off Cameron, you’re squashing me,”

“Right, Cameron, get off Matthew’s head and go get me a piece of paper. We are going to sign an agreement to all live peacefully together.”

“No, No Cam, that’s my paper. Mum, Cameron’s stealing my paper.”

“Can he have just one piece of that paper Matt, for the treaty. Just one? Go on. Well done boys. Now shall we write this treaty?”

Maori Canoe Waitangi

Maori Canoe Waitangi

Look let’s write a treaty…

“But I don’t understand Maori Mum.”

“It’s Ok Matt, we’ll just write it in English.”

“But it’s got to be in Maori too. I know! I can say ‘I’m hungry in Japanese. Shall we do one in Japanese Mum?”

“No Matt. No one can speak Japanese can they?”

“Japanese people can.”

“But no one in this family can…”

“I can say ‘I’m Hungry'”

“Look Matthew. We can’t do a whole treaty based on two words can we? Now what would you want Cameron to agree to do in your treaty so you could live nicely and not fight?”

At Waitangi, New Zealand

Waitangi may be a peaceful place now but it doesn’t wash off on the boys

What should go in it?

“Not steal my helicopter.”

“Ok, we’ll write that. Not steal helicopter. Anything else?”

“Cameron, you’re not to touch my helicopter for ever and ever, all right?.”

“Don’t want helicopter.”

“Well you cant have it…ever.”

“Matthew, you don’t steal my lamby to go on your helicopter.”

“Right boys. That’s enough about helicopters. What else.”

“Cameron is to do all his wees and poos on the toilet.”

“That’s a good one. Cameron, will you do that?”


“Cam, is there anything you’d like Matthew to do?”

“Play with me in the playground.”

“No. Don’t EVER come near me in the playground. And don’t ever keep me awake when I’m trying to sleep. And no crying. And don’t eat all the sweeties.”

“You stupid and filthy.”

“Mum, Cameron just hit me.”

“I want Daddy. Daddy, Mummy and Matthew upset me.”

Just SIGN It please…

“Guys shall we sign this treaty? Matthew? Cameron? Ok boys, if you sign the treaty I’ll give you both a treat. Sweeties, lemonade popsicles, anyone for a treat? Go and look in my bar bag.”

“Mum, Cam’s got all the sweeties. And it was in the treaty…don’t eat all the sweeties RIGHT? Mum, Cameron’s taken my helicopter, Mum, tell Cameron. Mum, I don’t like Cameron.”

“Right, that’s the treaty finished. I’ve had enough now. Sign it here both of you.”

“In Maori?”

“Matthew, you can sign it in bloody Japanese for all I care.”

“Get off Cameron, I’m signing it.”

“No I sign it.”

“Mum, Cameron’s ripped the treaty. Don’t ever EVER do that to the treaty again Cameron. Mum, Cameron’s ripped the treaty and done a wee in his pants. Mum, Mum?”

Maori Carving at Waitangi

Maori Carving on Maori Meeting House at Waitangi

About the author

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.

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We're Kirstie & Stuart. We share an adventurous spirit, a passion for indie travel and 3 kids. The Family Adventure Project is our long term experiment in doing active, adventurous things together. Find out more...


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