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8 - The Retreat of the Government and the Rise of the Treaty, 1844–1845

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 July 2020

Bain Attwood
Affiliation:
Monash University, Victoria
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Summary

The winter and spring of 1844–45 saw debate about native title in New Zealand reach a zenith in Britain. In a fierce parliamentary clash, the Treaty of Waitangi became the reference point in discussions of native title. This was not a consequence of the meanings or the importance attributed to the Treaty at the time it was made in 1840 but a result of the claims that had been made about it since 1842–43. In fact, the Treaty’s rise to prominence was the result of a struggle over the meaning of native title. The continuing attack by the New Zealand Company and allies, such as Lord Howick, saw the government increasingly arguing that the Treaty had to be upheld because it had acquired the nature of a solemn contract, and the honour and good faith of the British Crown and the nation were at stake. At the same time, the way that principal political players in Britain represented the natives’ military power varied enormously according to political circumstances and need, which draws into question the conventional wisdom that the British government respected the New Zealanders and their rights because of the simple fact of their might.

Type
Chapter
Information
Empire and the Making of Native Title
Sovereignty, Property and Indigenous People
, pp. 301 - 339
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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