Dunno if Alf has got a proper grasp on it, but it looks like the Treaty of Waitangi is a bit of a crock.
One mob signed it on the strength of their understanding of what it says in plain English.
The other mob signed it on the strength of their understanding of what it says in Te Reo, their lingua franca.
Trouble is, the meaning of the English version and the meaning of the Te Reo version are different.
What sort of a basis is that for establishing a comfortable relationship between Maori and the Crown, let alone the underpinning of a written Constitution?
The significance of this difference has become awkwardly apparent since the Waitangi Tribunal produced its latest report on how the colonisers treated indigenous persons in the early days.
Alf had been led to believe the Treaty legitimised the Crown’s sovereignty over the country.
Not so, it seems.
As this Stuff report explains:
The rangatira, or Maori leaders, who signed te Tiriti o Waitangi in February 1840 agreed to share power and authority with Britain, but did not give up sovereignty to the British Crown, according to stage one of The Waitangi Tribunal’s inquiry into Te Paparahi o te Raki (the great land of the north) Treaty claims.
“That is, they did not cede authority to make and enforce law over their people or their territories,” the tribunal said.
The good news came in a brief statement from the Attorney-General and Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson:
“There is no question that the Crown has sovereignty in New Zealand. This report doesn’t change that fact.”
So the Crown didn’t get its sovereignty via the Treaty, but it has sovereignty regardless.
“The tribunal doesn’t reach any conclusion regarding the sovereignty the Crown exercises in New Zealand. Nor does it address the other events considered part of the Crown’s acquisition of sovereignty or how the treaty relationship should operate today,” Finlayson said.
Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis obviously anticipated the sort of reaction the tribunal’s findings would get in Alf’s favourite watering holes.
He called for calm and said it was time for “wise heads” to sit down and have a conversation about what the report meant for the country in 2014.
It was not clear what the longer term ramifications would be, Davis said.
While some “red necks” might view the report as Maori separatism, he believed it could have the opposite effect and bring people together.
That’s not how it’s working with Alf’s mates.
They can be a stroppy bunch on this sort of thing and they are saying if the treaty is a crock, and if the Crown got its sovereignty through foul means rather than fair, then they are not going to lose much sleep.
A lot of PC-infested Pakeha will be doing a bit of hand-wringing today and wondering what can be done to make amends.
But despite elements of Danish in his ancestry, Alf feels in no way responsible for the Vikings who raped, looted and burnt their way through bits of Britain a few centuries ago.
Nor does he feel in any way responsible for the deeds of his great, great …. or whatever … grandfather either during or in the aftermath of the signing of the Treaty.
He imagines the indigenous persons who invaded the Chatham Islands and did great violence among the Moriori who peacefully lived there feel a similar lack of guilt.
Did they sign any treaties?
Not that Alf is aware of.
Oh – and if the Treaty did not give the Crown sovereignty over the country, but the colonisers took it over by force – well, this simply shows might was right. In that case, is their a case (he cheekily asks) for the the Crown to demand its compo money back please?