Explore the journey Te Tiriti o Waitangi has taken — from its creation in Waitangi on 6 February 1840 to its preservation as a taonga for future generations in the He Tohu exhibition today.
- Significance, preservation, identity, organisation, ceremony, protocols.
- He Tohu themes: the documents, people, living together.
What to do
Find out about the parchment, paper, and ink used
Some sheets of Te Tiriti o Waitangi were made from parchment.
- Get students to research how to make parchment.
Other sheets were made from rags.
- Get students to research how to make rag paper and have a go.
Te Tiriti o Waitangi was scribed with iron gall ink.
- Get students to research iron gall ink ingredients and the process for making it. Students can write this up as a 'recipe'.
Learn about the voyages of Te Tiriti o Waitangi
Students watch The voyages of Te Tiriti o Waitangi to learn about the voyage of the 9 sheets across New Zealand and then complete the following:
- Track the dates and locations of the journey of Te Tiriti on a map of New Zealand.
- How many places did Te Tiriti sheets go to? How long did it take to get the more than 500 signatures?
- Why were there so few signatures collected in the South Island?
- Do you think 6 February is the best day to celebrate the signing of Te Tiriti?
Discover how Te Tiriti was almost lost
Students watch Te Tiriti o Waitangi — nine lives and discuss the following:
- How easily could the original documents have been lost?
- Why were they not protected and consider taonga before they came into the guardianship of Archives New Zealand?
Students find other stories about the documents to create a timeline of the journey of Te Tiriti.
Understand Te Tiriti's history in He Tohu
Before the He Tohu exhibition opened, New Zealand’s 3 iconic constitutional documents moved from Archives New Zealand to the National Library of New Zealand in a historic and emotional predawn ceremonial procession.
Get students to read Moving the documents, watch the video on that web page, and answer the following questions:
- What protocols and ceremony surrounded the moving of New Zealand's founding documents from Archives New Zealand to the He Tohu exhibition in the National Library, Wellington?
- Why was it such a careful and significant ceremony?
- Why did this happen predawn?
- Who do you think was involved in the complete process?
He Tohu is a permanent exhibition of 3 iconic constitutional documents that shape Aotearoa New Zealand. To find out more, get students to watch He Tohu exhibition (YouTube video, 3:06) and He Tohu: A declaration. A treaty. A petition (YouTube video, 1:29). Discuss:
- the importance of He Tohu
- what interactions they could see
- what information is available
- why has so much time and effort has gone into creating He Tohu?
Find out about the conservation of Te Tiriti o Waitangi as a taonga
Get students to read:
Then answer these questions:
- What are the concerns about preserving this document today?
- What processes have had to happen in order to display the original Te Tiriti documents in He Tohu?
- What conditions have to be managed and monitored carefully?
- What occupations and skills would be involved with the process of moving the Te Tiriti documents from Archives New Zealand to He Tohu and the preservation of the original documents?
- What are the special materials and processes used to preserve Te Tiriti documents in He Tohu?
- How could the blank parchment be used to help preserve Te Tiriti?
Some useful resources
Archives New Zealand:
New Zealand Curriculum — social sciences
- Identity, Culture, and Organisation