Why the Treaty of Waitangi?

At the heart of New Zealand’s founding document, and of its interpretation, lies translation. As instructed by William Hobson, Henry Williams undertook, with his son’s help, to translate into Māori what was to be known as the Treaty of Waitangi. The translation they produced overnight contains a number of key differences in meaning, which have led to divergent interpretations of the English and Māori versions of the Treaty.

The Treaty Times Thirty project highlights the translator’s difficult task of re-expressing identical meaning from one language to another. It also reiterates the importance of translation in the New Zealand context, aims to make the Treaty more accessible to migrants who live here, and encourages a better understanding of the Treaty internationally.