On 28 October 1835, James Busby called a hui (meeting) at Waitangi. Thirty-four northern chiefs who became known as the Confederation of United Tribes signed ‘A Declaration of the Independence of New Zealand’ and called upon King William IV of Britain to become their ‘parent’ and ‘Protector’. They also thanked the King for acknowledging their flag.
The handwritten Declaration consisting of four articles was later printed by a mission printery. It asserted the independence of Nu Tirene (New Zealand) under the rule of the ‘United Tribes of New Zealand’, which planned to ‘meet in Congress’ at Waitangi each autumn to frame laws.
Māori had no say in the preparation of this document. Nevertheless, by 1839, 52 chiefs had signed the declaration, which was acknowledged by the British government. Busby saw it as a significant mark of Māori national identity and believed it would prevent other countries from making formal deals with Māori.
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