Waipapa Marae entrance

Remember and reflect: The Declaration of Independence and the National Day of Commemoration for the New Zealand Wars

Saturday 28 October 2023 marks the anniversary of the signing of He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tirene: the Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand in 1835. Te Pūtake o te Riri, He Rā Maumahara, or the National Day of Commemoration for the New Zealand Wars, is commemorated on the same date.  

He Whakaputanga: Declaration of Independence 

In his introduction to He Whakaputanga: The Declaration of Independence, 1835, Vincent O’Malley describes the text of He Whakaputanga as further signalling “the intended closer cooperation among rangatira and with the British Crown.” He Whakaputanga recognised that Māori exercised rangatiratanga or sovereignty over the country and asserted independence and mana 

There are two versions of the Declaration of Independence, one in English created by James Busby, and the other a te reo Māori document that was signed. It consisted of four articles and stated that sovereign power and authority in the land resided with Te Whakaminenga, the Confederation of United Tribes, and that no foreigners could make laws. Te Whakaminenga was to meet annually to frame laws, and in return for the protection of British subjects in their territory, they sought the Crown’s protection against threats to their mana.  

Busby believed the Declaration would “be the most effectual mode of making the Country a dependency of the British Empire in everything but the name” while Māori were attempting to assert their authority to the world, strengthen an alliance with Great Britain, and safeguard their people in the face of rapid change.  

Learn more about He Whakaputanga 

Online resources: 

  • O’Malley, V., & Harris, Aroha. (2017). He Whakaputanga = the declaration of independence, 1835. Wellington, New Zealand : Archives New Zealand, Te Rua Mahara o Te Kāwanatanga ; National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa ; Bridget Williams Books.  
    • Produced for the exhibition He Tohu at the National Library in Wellington. Includes facsimile of the document, contextual information, biographies of signatories, references and sources. 
  • Black_space Gallery, host institution. (2014). He W’akaputanga Mai o te Rangatiratanga : A proclamation
    • Hokianga artists respond to Te W’akaputanga Mai O Te Rangatiratanga. 

In-Library resources: 

Te Pūtake o te Riri, He Rā Maumahara: The National Day of Commemoration for the New Zealand Wars 

Held each year on 28 October, Te Pūtake o te Riri, He Rā Maumahara was formally announced as a day of commemoration for the New Zealand Wars by the Government in 2016. The national day was introduced after students from Ōtorohanga College started a petition to raise awareness of the New Zealand Wars when they found themselves disturbed that these sites and stories were largely unknown after visits to two former Waikato battle sites, Ōrakau and Rangiaowhia.  

Learn more about the New Zealand Wars and He Rā Maumahara 

Te Pou Rāhui, Te Tumu Herenga


Archives New Zealand. He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni.  

‘Declaration of Independence’ (Ministry for Culture and Heritage). He Whakaputanga – Declaration of Independence. Updated 13-Jan-2022. 

Te Puni Kōkiri: Ministry of Māori Development. Rā Maumahara – the Journey to a National Commemoration. Last updated: Friday, 13 August 2021 | Rāmere, 13 Hereturikōkā, 2021.