The Treaty of Waitangi documents

In 1841 the Treaty documents were rescued from a fire in the government offices in Auckland. They were then put in an iron safe in the Colonial Secretary’s office in Auckland, and then transferred to Wellington when that city became the capital of New Zealand. Facsimile copies of the Treaty were printed in 1877 and the originals were put into storage.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi | Waitangi sheet
Waitangi Sheet, Te Tiriti o Waitangi. This is the Waitangi Sheet of te Tiriti o Waitangi, signed at various places around Aotearoa New Zealand in 1840. The document itself was drawn up on the night of 5 February by Richard Taylor, who was given the rough notes used at the Waitangi hui by Henry Williams. Archives Reference: IA9/9 Sheet 1

Hocken rescues the Treaty documents

Early in the 20th century, Thomas Morland Hocken, an elderly physician and historian, discovered the Treaty documents buried in a heap of old papers and rubbish in a basement underneath the wooden Government Buildings in Wellington. They had been damaged by rats and by water. They were restored and then placed in metal containers and stored in the Department of Internal Affairs offices. The Treaty was displayed in public in 1940 for the Centennial celebrations of the signing of the Treaty, and from 1949 was on display in the Alexander Turnbull Library.

Treaty documents move

In 1981 the Treaty documents were placed under the care of the National Archives (now called Archives New Zealand). Between 1991 and 2017 the nine Treaty sheets were displayed in the Constitution Room at Archives New Zealand in Wellington. In May 2017 these were moved to a permanent exhibition space, He Tohu, at National Library of New Zealand, Wellington. The Treaty sheets are all in Māori, except the Waikato sheet.

Recommended resources

Next: The Treaty “beyond grievance” and WAI 262

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