The question is, did Cooke with his exclusive legal contract perspective have the right understanding of the Treaty and the principles built into its framework?

Failing to Consider Precedent

Judge Cooke’s opinion failed to consider precedent, which is essential for interpreting meaning. Some sixty years preceding the Judge’s 1985 ruling, the famous Maori Christian Prophet T.W. Ratana stood before his people and proclaimed, “With the Treaty in one hand, and the Bible in the other”.

Prophet Ratana, originally a Taranaki farmer, was fluent in Maori language and he deeply understood the meaning of the Treaty. He knew people whose parents and grandparents were Treaty signatories.

Ratana focussed on spiritual, social, economic, political, historic and cultural issues. He was a missionary who uplifted Maori using the principles of Christian morality.

In making this statement, Ratana revealed the true and unchanging principles for interpreting the Treaty. He identified the principles as the Christian Ten Commandments plus Jesus’ Golden Rule.

Ratana called for the government, representing the Crown, to heed its responsibilities to administer the Treaty along Christian-based principles of moral accountability.

Unlike Judge Cooke, Ratana was not a secular legalist. He interpreted the Treaty from a moral, spiritual and social perspective. Prime Minister Joseph Savage, a Christian, agreed with Ratana’s understanding.

In 1924 Ratana organised a petition to address historic grievances around land issues. His followers collected 35,000 signatures, some 60% of the then Maori population of 59,000, recorded by the 1921 census as full-blood and half-caste.

The Ratana petition urged the government to honour its Treaty obligations and to correct the wrongs done to Maori.

From 1919 to 1939 Ratana spoke at virtually every marae, with the Treaty in one hand and the Bible in the other. There was no doubt for those Maori about the Christian principles woven into the Treaty.

Prophet Ratana directly referred to the THREE parties connected within the Treaty; the Crown, the chiefs and tribes, and the people of New Zealand.

Cutting out the Rights of the New Zealand People

In contrast, Judge Cook’s legal opinion cut the people of New Zealand out of the arrangements. Ratana and the Maori of his day would object to the injustice of Judge Cooke’s opinion. By excluding the people of New Zealand Cooke made all Treaty dealings conducted without their involvement illegitimate.

To the Maori of Ratana’s time the Christian basis of the Treaty was self-evident. Our perspective is coloured by eighty years of secularism and the notion that “anybody who feels so” can be Maori.

In recent decades academics and activists with self-serving agendas have wrapped their opinions around the Treaty. They use the judicial activism of Judge Cooke to justify interpretations that spawn division and disagreement.

The New Zealand people are now excluded from the Treaty conversation. Many are confused by the self-serving manipulations of politicians, lawyers, elitists and activists which are amplified by the media.

Ratana condemned the unchristian behaviour of such guilty people who are morally corrupt, impure in motive and act to destroy the common good.

A Christian Connection?

What evidence exists to prove that Ratana correctly yoked together the Treaty and the Bible? History proves that each key participant involved with the Treaty was directly connected with Christianity and welcomed the introduction of Christian values to guide the new nation’s morality.

In 1840 Queen Victoria, at the height of her powers, was head of the Church of England and represented the Crown. The people of New Zealand, represented by the missionaries and residents were already the Queen’s subjects, ‘de facto’ under British law.

The Maori chiefs and tribes were represented by those who signed the Treaty. James Busby drafted the Treaty in English and missionaries Rev. Henry and Edward Williams, who were fluent in Maori translated it.

These missionaries had an immediate understanding of Maori ways at a depth inaccessible to today’s part-Maori experts and academics.

Many of the chiefs and tribes were either Christian, or Christianised. For example, Hone Heke one of the first signatories was a Christian lay preacher.

A Road Map for Peace

The Crown, the chiefs and tribes, and the people of New Zealand fully understood the Christian basis of their shared project. They hoped to build a better future where the devastating Musket Wars would cease and Christian peace and prosperity would reign under the sovereignty of British Law.

British Law founded on the Magna Carta derives its core principles and precepts from Biblical sources. The Ten Commandments, The Golden Rule and many other concepts on contracts, social arrangements and cultural values are built in to the British model for culture and society.

The core principles, rules, tenets, opinions and canons woven into the Treaty of Waitangi, in the Maori and English versions, are Christian in origin. No other interpretation is factually possible.

Legal Doctrine Not Appropriate

Judge Cooke’s opinion, an extremely narrow legalistic view, cannot represent the true meaning of the Treaty. The Crown, Maori chiefs and tribes and people of New Zealand were entering a higher level of relationship as a new born nation. Prophet Ratana and the Maori of his day fully agreed with the intentions of 1840.

When Ratana’s followers entered politics, his closest disciple Eruera Tirikatene, elected as the candidate for Southern Maori in 1932, declared before our Parliament;

“I represent the Ratana policy, the Treaty of Waitangi…My platform is the fulfilment of the conditions set out in the Treaty of Waitangi. Without the spilling of one drop of blood the great chiefs of the past handed over their sovereignty to Great Britain in return for an assurance that they and their descendants would have full, exclusive, and undisturbed rights and possession over their lands, forests and fisheries, or such properties as they owned at that time. It seems sad to think now that the descendants of these chiefs are now penniless.”

The first seal of the new nation of New Zealand represents Queen Victoria amidst Maori Chiefs giving her their allegiance. The second seal represents the three Treaty parties, Crown, Maori chiefs and tribes, and the people of New Zealand.

Finally the people of New Zealand have access to this evidence.

The Way Forward

The way to restore national unity and trust is once again accessible. Prophet Ratana displayed great foresight in 1924, when with the majority of Maori he declared that the Treaty and the Bible go together, inseparably.

Problems stemming from the radical re-interpretation of the Treaty have been created by those who have discarded the truth of the Christian foundations of our Maori and British ancestors.

Self-serving activists reject the Bible and therefore deny the truth of the Treaty. They are judged by the truth of T.W. Ratana’s wisdom and insight. Prophet Ratana was also a healer. His words and example demonstrate to both Maori and Pakeha that We are One People within the Treaty.

Two centuries of intermarriage prove Ratana’s point of unity. Representatives of three parties have inherited the Treaty. We share responsibility before our ancestors and descendants to work peacefully together to build New Zealand as God’s Own Nation.

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  1. Very good Post.

    This web site shows the intentions by the how the drafts of the Treaty were made, so as to be able to be signed in 1840
    So the “LIttlewood”, which is in James Busby’s hand writing was the final English draft.


    The book of this is online, and by clicking through, you can read through it.
    …. The document that has come to be known as the Littlewood Treaty is, singularly and uniquely, the only complete body of text, incorporating a Preamble, Articles I, II, III and Affirmation section, fitting all of the expected “final English draft” criteria. ……

    ….. Our legislators are knowingly using a rejected and discarded, early rough draft treaty version when fashioning and interpreting our laws, which was superseded by a final draft.

    This website, the book, “The Littlewood Treaty, The True English Text of the Treaty of Waitangi…Found Littlewood”,
    It is there online, free to be read, to scan, copy up what you think is important.

    Any one who brings this subject, and the issues then academia, politicians, media all suppress, denigrate, etc., in so many ways

    “”He Iwi Tahi Tatou” – We are now one people” Governor George Hobson.



    • Hobson was on the right track.

      New Zealand will do better if its citizens work together as one people. What that “people” will become, we don’t know. The future will include more India and Chinese content in the admixture. It will be more competitive, with a greater need for ethical behavior (being a good sportsman and not cheating). New Zealand should prevent the rise of an aristocratic, ticket-clipping / rent-collecting idle elite.

      Reward hard work and initiative, encourage intergenerational family wealth accumulation so that the family can fund its members’ education, health, training and business start-ups without handouts from the tax-payer, but at the same time, suppress the rise of an aristocratic idle elite.



  2. I find it rather odd theres no statude of limitations on the treaty, how can it be legal to have a document signed on behalf of people that will not be born for 180years and have them continue to pay for it and the fuckups.

    Even the US constitution has been ammended many times. If the treaty can be interpreted in many different ways then imo its null and void. Its impossie to determine what was understood and meant when everyone that was involved has been dead for almost 200years.



  3. “The Treaty, beautifully explained by a wise and honest Maori leader”
    If only today’s Maori leaders shared Sir Apirana Ngata’s high regard for truth.

    First published in 1922

    The words that follow are those of history’s greatest Maori statesman…

    John Ansell makes some points in the middle, (it is his blog)
    A long read, but gives good insight of the practical commonsense thinking of those times.
    The sparring in the comments, shows others have good links to other non-revisionist historians. 🙂



  4. Cooke invoking contract law brings in contra proferentem, that is why Maori interests get the benefit of the doubt.

    The contra proferentem rule is a legal doctrine in contract law which states that any clause considered to be ambiguous should be interpreted against the interests of the party that created, introduced, or requested that a clause be included.

    Contra Proferentem Rule Definition – investopedia.com



  5. Cooke got it wrong. A treaty is similar in some aspects, but is not the same as a contract. A contract is between (at least) two distinct parties, each of whom has a finite existence. A treaty is between two (or more) diverse and large populations, who will exist for many generations.

    The contra proferentem rule should be limited to application to contracts; not to Treaties.

    By twisting the ToW to provide welfare and protection to people self-identifying as Maori, the treaty has been used to weaken them and make them more dependent upon the State. The proof is in the outcome. The more money is spent on welfare, the worse the situation becomes.

    Money should never be used as a pain-killer. Like morphine, it becomes addictive and more toxic at higher dosages.



  6. This article shows the sell out, the gas lighting narcissism, of the political elite and how they use Treaty of Waitangi, morphing into He Puapua.

    …. At times of crisis (terrorist attack, pandemic), the Prime Minister has proclaimed, with a straight face, “we are one people”, “we are all in this together”.
    What a massive contradiction! ……

    …….. First, it must be said, if some national document or custom says we are two races and proclaims racism, it must be repudiated.
    No nation should accept inherited racism. …..

    ….. The Treaty of Waitangi presents no such problem; it is a strong, unequivocal statement of equal rights, of one people, all as British subjects.
    There is no separation in the Treaty, no race.
    Indeed, there is no ‘Maori’.
    Rather there is reference to ‘maori’, the common people, all of us……


    If this is how the treaty is to be used, as on the issue of just who’s baby is it? then as King Solomon wisely said,
    “cut the baby in half” then the true mother become apparent.

    So then screw the treaty right out of all legislation, and governance.
    As signing it they all knew after a day of debating, discussing,
    “”He Iwi Tahi Tatou” – We are now one people” Governor George Hobson.



    • Indeed.
      There is no ‘Maori’.

      There are only people who self-identify as “Maori.” Granted, there will be East Polynesian blood running in their veins, but there will also be the blood of other peoples.

      You can’t hide what’s inside.



  7. Odakyu-sen,

    NZ legal systems have departed from the tried and true formula of the law must support the same opportunity for all . The law should never have favourites.
    There is a NZ struggle with some claiming privilege and priority because of their race.
    And getting away with it.
    This is divisive ,dangerous and wrong.
    People should be rewarded according to their own achievements not their often dubious lineage.



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