Whatever Gareth Morgan has been studying for the last five years it certainly wasn’t history. There is no historical basis whatsoever for his claim at Ratana Pa today that the Treaty is about “co-governance”. The Maori version of the Treaty itself is clear. As translated by Sir Hugh Kawharu, Article 1 of the Treaty states:
“The Chiefs of the Confederation and all the Chiefs who have not joined that Confederation give absolutely to the Queen of England for ever the complete government over their land.”
Not much room for co-governance there. It is true that Article 2 guaranteed continued rangatiratanga (chieftainship). However both the Treaty text and the historical records of the debate at Waitangi make it clear that chieftainship was to be exercised in the context of the overarching sovereignty of the Crown. The mana of the Queen was supreme. (refer One Sun in the Sky)
Unfortunately Morgan seems to have little concern for history. In his recent series of Herald articles he argued that regardless of what was actually agreed in 1840, we could now reinterpret the Treaty in whatever way we liked or found useful. Such pragmatic thinking may strike a chord in the kiwi psyche which inherently dislikes controversy and prefers to get on with things. However it is flawed.
The Crown hasn’t spent years negotiating and settling historic Treaty grievances because it was convenient. It has done so because it has wanted in good faith to honour what was actually agreed at Waitangi. To now say that doesn’t matter seems to completely contradict all the good work that has been done and which Morgan himself says he supports.
If Morgan wanted to really see the way ahead for race relations in New Zealand he would have done better to study the teachings and life of the founder of Ratana Pa. True kotahitanga (unity) in our land will not come from woolly thinking about the Treaty. It will come from clear commitment from both Pakeha and Maori to honour what was actually agreed, and a renewal of the Christian faith that led both peoples to the Treaty in the first place.