A matter of choice
On the afternoon of 4 February, Henry Williams recalled, 'Captain Hobson came to me with the Treaty of Waitangi in English, for me to translate into Māori'. This had to be done overnight, to be ready for the first meeting of chiefs the next day. Williams made the translation with the help of his 21-year old son Edward who had grown up in New Zealand.
The challenge was, as Williams later explained, to find words in Māori that matched the English, at the same time 'preserving entire the spirit and tenor of the Treaty'.
The choice of words – 'kawanatanga' for 'sovereignty' and 'rangatiratanga' for 'possession' – would soon lead to debate over the terms of the Treaty. Rangatiratanga was the word used in 1835 for the 'independence' of New Zealand.