Right across the bay from the quaint little town I lived in in New Zealand was the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. I had lived so close the whole time I was there, but I kept putting it off, telling myself I would go later.
Eventually it was my last weekend in Russell, and I knew I couldn’t leave without visiting such an important place in New Zealand history. This is where the Treaty of Waitangi – what is seen as the founding document of New Zealand – was signed on February 6, 1840 in the spot where this flagstaff now stands…
It was an “agreement” between the Maori chiefs and the British, but translations for both sides never really matched up, and there was a lot of uncertainty as to what was actually agreed to. The British believed that the treaty meant they had complete sovereignty over the land, but the Maori chiefs believed they were only giving permission for the British to use some of their land. This led to much conflict as the British took more and more land, but New Zealand was now an official British colony.
I took a tour of the grounds and also got to experience one of the best Maori culture shows I’ve ever seen (and attempted to become part of their tribe).