Trouble at Waitangi

Unpretentious, pristine and remarkable, New Zealand is an island country each of us should plan to see at least once in our lifetime.
The indigenous people of New Zealand are the Maori people. Polynesian in decent, they make up 15 per cent of the country’s population. The official second language of New Zealand, Te Reo Maori, or simply Te Reo is taught to school-age children, including traditions of the Maori people. Signage in official buildings, such as libraries, is also translated into both languages.

One of the most visually thrilling aspects of the Mario culture is the Haka. It is a traditional ancestral war dance, which demonstrates an intimidating series of stances and poses to a potential opponent. There are a number of variations of these war dances, depending on the occasion. New Zealand’s rugby team the All Blacks, who incidentally are number one in the world, perform the Haka before every game. Its marvellous to watch, and seems to be working against their challengers.

In 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed as an agreement between the British Crown and Maori. The generally accepted meaning of the name is weeping waters. In Southern Maori dialect the name is Waitaki, hence Waitaki River.

The treaty established British law in New Zealand and is considered the country’s founding document. The building where the treaty was signed on the North Island has been well preserved. The Waitangi Treaty Ground has become a popular attraction and Waitangi Day a public holiday for New Zealand.

The Treaty of Waitangi was drawn up and both sides signed it. But they were signing different documents. In the English version, the Maori were to “cede to Her Majesty the Queen of England absolutely and without reservation all the rights and powers of Sovereignty.” In the Maori translation, composed by a British missionary, they were not to give up sovereignty, but governance. They thought they were getting a legal system, but keeping their right to rule themselves. That’s not how it turned out, and generations later the issues around the meaning of this treaty are still being decided.
Just another case of translation gone wrong.

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