Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Te Tiriti o Waitangi gave "the Crown the power to make laws that govern all New Zealanders." This has been updated to "the Crown kāwanatanga (guardianship) over its subjects."

The founding document of Aotearoa - Te Tiriti o Waitangi - was created to ensure the protection of Māori culture, resources, way of life and tino rangatiratanga, giving the Crown kāwanatanga (guardianship) over its subjects. 

But the Crown failed to live up to its obligations - stealing Māori land and suffocating Māori culture. 

While efforts have been made to fix historic injustices - such as establishing the Waitangi Tribunal which has since led to iwi receiving more than $2.2 billion from 90 deeds of settlements, that money doesn’t come close to compensating Māori for the true value of what was lost through the process of colonisation. 

And as the late Māori lawyer and activist Moana Jackson said: “treaties aren’t meant to be settled, they’re meant to be honoured.” 

This Waitangi Day Re: News asked four rangatahi Māori about what honouring the Treaty in 2023 means to them. Here’s what they had to say.

Photo: Jazmin Tainui Mihi 

Quack Pirihi (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Wai, Ngāti Porou) is a community worker and Takatāpui activist. 

“I think it's important that we rename New Zealand to Aotearoa, it sets a tone for how we respect and engage with the indigenous original kaitiaki of this whenua that we're standing on. We take advantage of every single day.” 


Photo: Ben Mikha

Samantha Veitch (Ngāti Awa) works within the hauora space offering bilingual movement classes and teaches mauri tau practices to youth. 

“The way that I would like to see Te Tiriti being honoured this year is through the government reinstating urban tree protection and legislation in Aotearoa to protect and preserve our taiao for generations to come. 

“Trees provide the biggest biodiversity within our ecosystems. This is a huge loss to us if our mature and native rākau continue to get cut down within our urban environments.

“For Māori, our tīpuna threaded our history and culture into these rākau through pūrākau. The strengthening of our taiao also means the strengthening of our culture and our connection to these stories.”


Photo: Mikaela Canter

Mikaela Canter (Ngāti Kahu, Te Rarawa) has just finished kura and will soon start university in Auckland where she will study international relations and Māori development.

“A way I would love to see Te Tiriti honoured this year is how we support rangatahi Māori who are still in schooling systems in terms of te reo, in terms of kapa haka, in terms of tikanga, and te ao Māori as a whole.

“A lot of the time we forget that growing up, not everyone has cultural access to their marae, to their whenua, to tikanga, to different whakaaro within the iwi itself. 

“School does become that place where a lot of rangatahi Māori go to build those connections to learn that whakaaro, to learn tikanga and be able to practise things that they wouldn't otherwise. 

“When you walk into an environment that isn't prioritising your culture, that doesn't have te reo classes available, that doesn't have kapa haka available, it really diminishes you and your wairua and your sense of belonging on your own whenua.”


Photo: Angus Fraser

Paaka Davis (Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Whatua, Ngāti Porou, Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Te Whānau a Kai, Ngāti Kahungunu) is a Māori content creator with over 400,000 followers on TikTok. 

“One way I want to see the Te Tiriti o Waitangi being honoured this year is the continued repatriation of taonga tūturu back to Aotearoa. Our taonga have been sitting in the British Museum for most of our lives, and it's time that they come home.”

More stories:

‘Half little shit and half quite meaningful’: How I exercise my tino rangatiratanga

My tino rangatiratanga often looks like I'm desensitising myself in the face of adversity.

The man who has been photographing Waitangi for 50 years

John Miller (Ngāpuhi) is an award-winning documentary photographer from Auckland.

One of my ancestors created the Treaty of Waitangi. Another protested against it.

Hawaiiki James Morrison is a direct descendant of ancestors who had opposing views on Te Tiriti o Waitangi.