The Treaty of Waitangi – the Maori Magna Carta. Public address by David Williams

The NZ Council for Civil Liberties is pleased to announce:

    The Treaty of Waitangi – the Maori Magna Carta

    Public address by Dr David V Williams, Professor of Law, University of Auckland

    St Andrews on The Terrace, Wellington

    7:30pm Sunday 13th September

"This year is the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. It is also the 175th anniversary of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The notion of ‘British sovereignty’ as understood in 1840 (rather than as understood in later and in more recent times) was consistent with the continued application of tikanga and rangatiratanga for governance of the affairs of hapu, whilst the colonial administration exercised direct authority over settlers and foreign traders. In debates about the Treaty of Waitangi in the early 1840s there were numerous references by the Governor and his officers to that treaty as the ‘Maori Magna Carta.’ The address will discuss aspects of that history and then turn to contemporary issues.

“Magna Carta’s symbolic strengths cannot guarantee good defence counsel for those who are accused of crimes, nor can they ensure that justice is indeed done when juries announce verdicts of guilty. But without due process and other common law liberties, the potential for more frequent examples of arbitrary and unfair detentions and imprisonments would be hugely enhanced. Noting instances of justice and injustice in recent times, the address will conclude that due process common law traditions associated with the Magna Carta remain of enduring significance.” – Dr David Williams

About the Speaker

Dr David V Williams is a Professor of Law at the University of Auckland. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Balliol College, Oxford and has tertiary qualifications in history, law and theology. He has taught and researched at the University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and the University of Auckland. From 1991 to 2001 he was an independent researcher and barrister specialising in research relevant to Treaty claims. He is also an ordained priest in the Anglican Church.

He has worked as historian, lawyer and claims negotiator with many hapu and iwi in Aotearoa New Zealand, but especially with Ngati Whatua Orakei from the days of the Bastion Point/Takaparawhau occupation in the 1970s right through to the Ngati Whatua Orakei Claims Settlement Act passed in November 2012.

He has held visiting appointments at Exeter College and St John’s College in the University of Oxford, and at the University of Dar es Salaam. He has authored 5 books including Te Kooti tango whenua: The Native Land Court 1864-1909 (Huia, 1999) and A simple nullity? The Wi Parata case in New Zealand law and history (AUP, 2011).