Year 10 - Lesson 2

Curriculum level:
Programme focus:
Case studies
Length of lesson:
45 – 90 minutes

Focus learning areas

  • What is a treaty?
  • Why a Treaty was needed.
  • The Preamble text of the Treaty.

Achievement objectives

Students will gain knowledge, skills, and experience to:

  • Understand how exploration and innovation create opportunities and challenges for people, places, and environments.
  • Understand that events have causes and effects.
  • Understand how the ideas and actions of people in the past have had a significant impact on people’s lives.
  • Understand how the Treaty of Waitangi is responded to differently by people in different times and different places.

Learning outcomes

This programme will provide students with opportunities to:

  • Recap what a treaty is and why a treaty was needed in New Zealand.
  • Study the Preamble text of the Treaty to find clues on the reasons for the development of a treaty.
  • Discuss the five reasons highlighted in the Preamble, and what they refer to historically. This will require using prior knowledge based on the history leading up to 1840.

Suggested activities

Who wrote the Treaty?

William Hobson was sent here to make the Treaty of Waitangi, on behalf of the British Crown. He arrived on 29 January 1840, and wrote the Treaty within seven days, with the help of the British Resident James Busby. Both of them were inexperienced in law and legalities, which has contributed to problems then and now, regarding the text.

Henry Williams translated the Treaty of Waitangi, from English into Māori, overnight from the 4 to 5 February 1840. While experienced in speaking Māori, he sought assistance from his son Edward who was born in New Zealand, and was a native speaker. It is said however, that Henry’s brother William was the more fluent speaker, though he wasn’t present at the time.


Each student will need a copy of the Preamble text from the Treaty. This can be found:

A Preamble is another way of saying introduction. This introduction tells you who the Treaty was between, why it was needed, and who was appointed to sign on behalf of the British Crown.

  • What words are used in the English text of the Preamble for the two groups? (Her Majesty Victoria Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and the Native Chiefs and Tribes of New Zealand.)
  • Look through the Preamble and you will find five reasons for the Treaty. A clue is that they are in capital letters, protect their just Rights and Property, Peace and Good Order, Emigration, Laws and Institutions, Civil Government.

The particular parts highlighted in the Preamble explain some of the ‘whys’. Using these will provide the prompts to discuss the pre-1840 information.

‘Protect their just Rights and Property’

  • Who was the first group to arrive in New Zealand, Māori or the British? (Refer to the TREATY 2 U website ‘A Māori world’.) Māori, therefore (in their Iwi and hapu) occupied a majority of the land in New Zealand in 1840.
  • Trade – it was in the best interest for both sides that the trade relationship was protected.

‘Peace and Good Order’

  • The introduction of muskets
  • Tribal warfare
  • Lawless behaviour – Kororareka (Russell)
  • Role of the missionaries

For more information on the state of New Zealand in the early 1800s regarding tribal warfare and lawlessness see:āori-and-the-british/war-migration-and-change/āori-and-the-british/political-relationships/

‘A settled form of Civil Government’

  • Up until 1840, Māori had their own sets of laws within their cultural boundaries, but there was no central governing system, nor any one set of laws that spread throughout the whole of New Zealand.
  • While the iwi had rangatira (chiefs), no-one ruled over the country as whole, such as a Prime Minister or King/Queen.

‘Laws and Institutions’

  • The lack of laws (as Europeans knew them) meant that a degree of lawless behaviour began to surface, particularly with European traders and sailors.

‘Rapid extension of Emigration’

  • The living standards in Britain were very bad, and the desire for many to begin a new life elsewhere in the world was high. Therefore New Zealand filled a need / desire for a better life.

The introduction in The Treaty section of the interactive CD Rom / website is a good way to conclude this lesson. It will also prepare the students for the next lesson, which focuses on what the Articles of the Treaty say, and the key differences between the English and Māori language text.

Supporting information

Text of the Treaty

King, Michael

The Penguin History of New Zealand

Penguin Books Ltd, Auckland, 2003

Orange, Claudia

An Illustrated History of The Treaty of Waitangi, Revised edition

Bridget Williams Books, Wellington, 2004