Project 313 | Artwork 71 – 2 August


Title: Breach of Te Tiriti O Waitangi

Medium: mix media on paper | Scale: 500mm x 700mm | No: 71 Artwork Project 313

This Artwork is purchasable as: Original Artwork | Prints 1 through to 10 | Prints 11 through to 313


Andy Fyers wrote a very good article on the Treaty of Waitangi:

“What was lost”  – August 2nd  2018 Stuff.

It is a sad,  sad story of misappropriation and skulduggery.

When the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840, Māori land holdings encompassed most of New Zealand. Within a century, that had diminished to a few pockets of land, mostly in the middle of the North Island.

The land was lost through a combination of private and Government purchases, outright confiscation, and Native Land Court practices that made it difficult for Māori to maintain their land under traditional ownership structures.
The Crown used pre-emption to buy two-thirds of the entire land area of New Zealand from Māori – including most of the South Island. They paid 21,150 pounds in total – the equivalent of $2.4 million in today’s money, or about three residential properties in Auckland.

Treaty breaches have been identified by the Crown in the process of these purchases, these vary from purchase to purchase. In some cases, iwi were made promises that helped to convince them to sell, but the promises were often broken or simply ignored.

In the 1860s, the Government passed legislation to allow confiscation of Māori land from those who had ‘rebelled’ against the Crown during the New Zealand Wars. The lands of pro-Government and neutral iwi were also taken.The confiscated land was occupied by Pākehā settlers. The main confiscations were in the Waikato, Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay and Bay of Plenty regions.

Putting the unfairness or fairness of the court’s practises to one side, the outcome of the late-19th and early-20th Century period in which this court operated in this way was wholesale alienation of Māori from their land.

In 1865, some 19 million acres of land was in Māori customary title. It has been estimated that by 1909 at least 18 million acres of it was in individual ownership, almost none of it had been settled by Māori.

In the 20th Century there was further loss of Māori land to the Crown through private and Government purchases and under the Public Works Act, that sometimes breached the Treaty

The cumulative effect of all the purchases, confiscations and acquisitions is that collectively owned Māori land now accounts for 4.8 per cent of New Zealand’s total land area.

In 1769, Captain Cook estimated the Māori population at 100,000, while life expectancy was about 30 – similar to Western Europe at the time. By 1840, the Māori population was estimated between 70,000 and 90,000. After the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi diseases brought by the influx of European settlers – to which Māori had no immunity – had a devastating impact on the population and life expectancy.

Poverty and overcrowding as a result of land alienation made it easier for diseases to spread and by the end of the century the Māori population had roughly halved and was estimated at 42,000. In 1891, Māori life expectancy was 25 for men and 23 for women. In 1886, 51 per cent of Māori who died were younger than 15, compared with 14 per cent of non-Māori.

In the 20th Century the trend began to reverse as Māori developed better resistance to European diseases and received better healthcare. After WWII, the population boomed again thanks to lower mortality rates while fertility rates remained high. More people began to identify as Māori after 1981, which partly explains the spike.

At the 2013 Census, Māori numbered 600,000 with life expectancy of 73 for men and 77 for women – still below the figures for Pākehā.

All this very important history needs to be taught in our schools.

Title: Breach of Te Tiriti O Waitangi

Medium: mix media on paper | Scale: 500mm x 700mm | No: 71 Artwork Project 313

This Artwork is purchasable as: Original Artwork | Prints 1 through to 10 | Prints 11 through to 313

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Dr Richard Cooper Fine Arts