Story: Human rights

The Treaty of Waitangi – a human-rights document

The Treaty of Waitangi, first signed on 6 February 1840, was an agreement between the leaders of many Māori tribes and the British Crown. It accepted British governance over New Zealand, while guaranteeing Māori control over their lands, resources and taonga (treasured possessions). The third clause of the treaty gave Māori the rights and privileges of British subjects. As such it extended to Māori those rights British citizens had historically gained through agreements such as the Magna Carta and laws such as the Bill of Rights of 1689. The Treaty of Waitangi remains the basis of the relationship between Māori and the Crown, as represented by the New Zealand government.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Paul Rishworth, 'Human rights - Human rights: the background', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 18 May 2022)

Story by Paul Rishworth, published 20 Jun 2012, updated 28 Jun 2016