Date posted: 04/02/2022 4 min read

Gaining perspective on the Treaty of Waitangi

The Treaty of Waitangi is vital to our aspiration of supporting our members to make a difference in the communities in which they work and live.

In brief

  • The Treaty of Waitangi is the founding document of Aotearoa New Zealand
  • It informs CA ANZ’s development of a Māori sector strategy
  • Sir Rob McLeod FCA says it has significant role in producing a win/win outcome for all New Zealanders

Gaining perspective on the Treaty of Waitangi

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand is committed to honouring the Treaty of Waitangi firstly through a process of building our own cultural competency, knowledge and connection to te ao Māori.

For CA ANZ, understanding, acknowledging and honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles of participation, protection, partnership is vital to our aspiration of supporting our members to make a difference in the communities in which they work and live.

We are at an early stage in developing a Māori sector strategy to grow the Māori accounting sector and support Māori accountants to be difference makers in their communities.

The growth of the Māori economy and the need to increase the number of Māori accountants are two reasons why a strategy is needed, but the Treaty of Waitangi, and its principles of participation, protection, and partnership, also provide motivation.

Aotearoa’s founding document

The Treaty of Waitangi, or Te Tiriti o Waitangi is the founding document of Aotearoa New Zealand, and is commemorated every year on Waitangi Day, the anniversary of its initial signing on 6 February 1840. In 2022 it falls on a Sunday, so a public holiday is provided on the Monday.

The Treaty is named after the location of Waitangi in the Bay of Islands, where the Treaty was initially signed by representatives acting on behalf of the British Crown and about 45 Māori chiefs, later growing to over 500 Māori chiefs and representatives of the British Crown.

The three articles of the Treaty sought to give protection, rights and benefits to Māori as British subjects, give Māori full ownership of their lands, forestry’s, fisheries, taonga (treasures) and possessions, give the Crown exclusive rights to buy Māori land and give sovereignty/governance of New Zealand to Britain.

"The overall purpose of the Treaty was to make Māori and Pākehā New Zealanders better off by applying a governance framework to unite and carry these two peoples into a shared future. This remains the role of the Treaty today."
Sir Rob McLeod FCA

A tumultuous history

The signing had the effect of securing British sovereignty over the islands of New Zealand, which was officially proclaimed on 21 May 1840. However, adherence to the Treaty and differences in understanding of key concepts including tino rangatiratanga (absolute sovereignty) and kāwanatanga (used to describe the concept of governance) has resulted in contention.

After the signing in 1840, many promises made in Te Tiriti were broken. Māori did not have tino rangatiratanga, or absolute authority over their land, villages and taonga. In the years that followed, many Māori unfairly lost most of their land and were significantly disadvantaged.

For many years after its signing, little regard was given to the Treaty. However, since the 1940s, the Treaty has increased in prominence as a cornerstone of New Zealand’s political and economic formation, and Waitangi Day as a time for robust discussion and reflection on national identity.

It’s fair to say that the Treaty, and Aotearoa, have had a tumultuous beginning. Despite this, the Treaty continues to be a founding, and uniting document for Aotearoa New Zealand, which has positive principles that we can apply today.

Potential for unity

CA ANZ reached out to Sir Rob McLeod FCA, newly appointed life member of CA ANZ, distinguished businessman and public sector leader of Ngāti Porou heritage, to get his insight into the Treaty, and what it means to the future of New Zealand.

“The significance of Te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Treaty) to New Zealand and New Zealanders has evolved and fluctuated across generations, pushed along by commentary from multiple disciplines, such as historians, lawyers, and political scientists,” says Sir Rob.

“That commentary has focused on two general questions: what did the Treaty promise, and what did it deliver?”

“The overall purpose of the Treaty was to make Māori and Pākehā New Zealanders better off by applying a governance framework to unite and carry these two peoples into a shared future. This remains the role of the Treaty today.”

“The Treaty can assist us in building unity and co-operation in our country by preaching that gospel and bringing institutional and personal accountability behind it. E Tipu e Rea and The Price of Citizenship are two writings by Sir Apirana Ngata that demonstrate this kaupapa. CA ANZ has a vital role to play in education and advocacy as an influential New Zealand institution to help the Treaty deliver its purpose.

“Like many others, I am a descendant of both parties to the Treaty. This assists me to view the Treaty as an instrument of the common good. I believe in the principle of win/win.”

“Suppose, across time, a significant group within a nation does not fully benefit or participate in the success of the nation. That will translate into a lose/lose outcome for all its people over time. The Treaty has a significant role in producing a win/win outcome for all New Zealanders.”

Creating confidence in Te Ao Māori

Under the strategic pillars of ‘a sustainable profession and professional body, and ‘a culture of difference makers,’ CA ANZ is committed to developing a Māori sector strategy, to support a prosperous future for Māori accountants and businesses.

CA ANZ is proud to provide our members the opportunity to extend their knowledge, make connection and discover learnings of te aō Māori.

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