Archives New Zealand, IA9/9 Sheet 1

Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the Treaty of Waitangi, is the agreement that Aotearoa New Zealand is built on.

It has often been hotly debated. At times it has been ignored or broken but, for many New Zealanders, it remains a source of hope and optimism for the future of our country.

She signed: Te Rangitopeora

Te Rangi Topeora, offering the quill she used to sign.

Te Rangitopeora | born c.1800, died c.1865–1873 | Iwi Ngāti Toa

Te Rangitopeora was a formidable aristocratic woman, an important Ngāti Toa leader, and a composer of waiata that are still sung today. She had a forceful and passionate personality. Topeora had four husbands, held much property and had many accomplishments.

When baptised in 1847, she chose the name Kuini Wikitoria, Queen Victoria, for herself. Te Rangihaeata was her brother and Te Rauparaha was her uncle.

Te Rangitopeora was one of at least 15 women to sign the Treaty of Waitangi, in 1840. She initially accepted Pākehā presence, but later denounced settlers.

He aha te Tiriti o Waitangi?

Ko te Tiriti o Waitangi te pukapuka nui o Aotearoa.

Neke atu i te rima rau nga rangatira Māori i haina i te pukapuka nei. I hainatia tuatahitia i Waitangi i te ono o Pēpuere, 1840. Kātahi ka kawea ngā kape o te Tiriti nei ki wāhi kē, haina ai.

E rua ngā reo o te Tiriti. He reo Māori, he reo Pākehā hoki. E toru ngā wāhanga.

E ai ki te reo Pākehā, i te wāhanga tuatahi, i riro i a Kuini Wikitōria o Ingarangi te mana me te rangatiratanga o Aotearoa. Engari ia, hei tā te reo Māori, ko te kāwanatanga noa iho i riro i te Kuini.

Hei te wāhanga tuarua, ka whakapūmautia kētia te rangatiratanga o te Māori ki tēnei whenua.

Hei te wāhanga tuatoru, ka ōrite te Māori me te Pākeha i raro i ngā ture o Ingarangi.

I roto i ngā whakaritenga, i whakaae ā-waha a Te Hopihana ko ngā whakapono katoa o Ingarangi, o ngā Wēteriana, o Rōma, me te ritenga Māori hoki, ka tiakina ngātahitia e ia. Ki ētahi tāngata, ko te upoko tuawhā tēnei o te Tiriti.

What is the Treaty?

A treaty is an agreement between independent nations. Te Tiriti o Waitangi was an agreement between Britain, represented by William Hobson, and New Zealand, represented by many rangatira. The Treaty of Waitangi was first signed at Waitangi on 6 February 1840.

There are 9 sheets of the Treaty of Waitangi – 2 on parchment (stretched animal skin), and 7 on paper. 8 of these sheets are in te reo Māori, and one is in English. One of the Māori language sheets is printed, but all of the other sheets are handwritten.

The sheets that make up Te Tiriti o Waitangi were taken around the country, sometimes by land but more often by sea, to be signed by as many rangatira as possible. In the end, about 540 rangatira signed the Treaty of Waitangi sheets.

The exact number is not known because parts of some sheets are hard to interpret.

You dirty rat

A highlight from the He Tohu exhibition

Edge of the Waitangi sheet, showing where rats have eaten away at the parchment.

Made of parchment – stretched animal skin – The Treaty of Waitangi was irresistible to rats and mice. Before the Te Tiriti document found a home at Archives New Zealand, it was stored in a cupboard, where nibbling teeth could easily find it.

Image: Waitangi sheet, Archives New Zealand

First to sign

A highlight from the He Tohu exhibition

Hōne Heke and Patuone.

Hōne Heke was the first rangatira to add his tohu... but his elders Kawiti, Te Tirarau, and Pōmare put their marks above the young man.

Image: Hōne Heki and Patuone, 1844. PUBL-0014-01

Get into Te Tiriti’s past and present

The Treaty of Waitangi is signed – NZ History

Who signed and where – NZ History

About the Treaty of Waitangi – Te Ara

The Waitangi Tribunal

Come explore He Tohu

See the real Treaty of Waitangi,  He Whakaputanga  and the Women’s Suffrage Petition.

Explore the stories of Te Tiriti, and get to know the people who signed the document.

Come on in


What does 'Tino Rangatiratanga' mean?

"Our independence is our main aim. We feel there is more value in our independence than sovereignty..."

Dr Claudia Orange DNZM, Prof Rawinia Higgins, Dawn Mason-Lawrence, Moana Jackson and Dr Cybèle Locke.