Chapter 5

Written by: Anna Zhigareva

Dear great-great-granddaughter,


The festivities here have been simply incredible! Dr Hanley and I took the cart back to Auckland straight after spending Christmas at the beautiful settlement – beautiful indeed it currently is in full red bloom of the pohutukawas. 


We arrived in Auckland the night before New Year’s Eve. Dr Hanley had been renting the place I had originally stayed at upon arrival, so we took a lease out for the rest of the week before he must return to his practice.


Last night I saw a spectacular haka performed by the local Maori boys just on the waterfront outside our little house. The most incredible thing happened – two little white boys joined in. Without a fuss, without ridicule, the Maori boys allowed these foreigners to join and learn their traditional war dance, as if that was the most ordinary thing. 


It isn’t always like this around here. At the settlement, everyone is quite welcoming, and I have very well assimilated in the Maori culture. But word reaches us in our faraway isolated community that Auckland is expanding – and so it has! – and the white blokes, pakeha, the Maori call them, are taking over the land in vast amounts, cutting down the forests to build homes and make room for sheep grazing. 


Now having a firmer grasp of the language, I am beginning to understand the nature of the misunderstanding that currently fills the hearts of my peers, Maori and pakeha, with fret. You see, the Treaty of Waitangi… Some say Lieutenant Hobson had had careful instruction from England and knew exactly what he was doing. But I’ve heard other stories. That it was hastily prepared, and not an exact translation of the English. That can be understood, but not justified. At the time, more than thirty years ago now, the ease of communication which prevails today as the Maori learn our language and we learn theirs had not been at such a level back when the different Maori chiefs had discussed and signed the treaty.


Henry Williams, people say, had been a great man, had discussed the Treaty’s principles with the Maori chiefs the night of the fifth of February before the signing – had laid it out all clear and concrete before their eyes. But oral discussion to the side, what seems to have happened is a misuse of Maori terminology in the written points of the Treaty, especially regarding the sovereignty of the land. In English, though I have not seen the Treaty for myself yet, it is stated that Britain’s intentions were to provide for British settlement and maintain peace and order. The Maori version suggests that the Maori may retain ownership of their land for as long as they please.


And yet the pakeha seem to be occupying land in great swathes without a backwards glance. Troubling times these are. And I feel that I, a woman, pregnant and quite alone in my opinions in this household, must do something about it.