Network Waitangi Otautahi (NWO) supports the development of a multicultural, Treaty-based society. Because the intent and actual content of Te Tiriti o Waitangi are not well-known, let alone well-understood, we make our contribution through education to enhance understanding of the indigenous status of Tangata Whenua (people who whakapapa to a Maori ancestor) and the role of Tangata Tiriti (everyone else).  We focus on what was happening both globally and locally in the period leading up to the signing of the Treaty and also on the importance of its five aspects – the Preamble and four Articles.

All 5 aspects of the Treaty need to be taken together as a whole and as a follow-on to the 1835 Declaration of Independence – He Wakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni.
Preamble: Peace with justice for all
Article 1: Practising honourable KAWANATANGA
Article 2: Promoting TINO RANGATIRATANGA by Tangata Whenua
Article 3: Maori participation in Kawanatanga in ways determined by Maori in relation to tikanga
Article 4: Everybody’s belief systems upheld

This work supports the kaupapa of the restoration of Tino Rangatiratanga by Tangata Whenua and the establishment of honourable Kawanatanga by the Crown.  Through developing this understanding of the Te Tiriti o Waitangi we can assist in the process of working toward a Treaty-based, multicultural future.  Currently, Te Tiriti o Waitangi is usually seen as relating almost exclusively to Maori.  In a Treaty-based future it will be relevant to all of us, with all political relationships between Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti based on it.

In a speech in Wellington on 17 August 2006, Dr Pita Sharples referred to the words spoken by Captain William Hobson who signed Te Tiriti on behalf of the British Crown ‘He iwi kotahi tatou’ meaning ‘now we are one people’. Dr Sharples notes:

“As Nelson Mandela had said,
It is difficult to negotiate with those who do not share the same frame of reference’.
If we are able to recognise and come to have a shared view of this political document called the Treaty of Waitangi, as our shared frame of reference, then and only then, can we perhaps say –
He iwi kotahi tatou”.