Story: He Whakaputanga – Declaration of Independence

United Tribes' flag

United Tribes' flag

This postcard depicts the selection of a national flag by Māori chiefs at Waitangi in 1834. There are three flagpoles flying flags and a chief, one of the members of the United Tribes, is pointing his mere pounamu (greenstone weapon) towards the front flag, which was selected as the national flag. The building to the left is the house of James Busby, the British Resident (a British official), which came to be called the Treaty House. To the right are dignitaries standing on a covered stage. The man holding the paper is probably meant to be Busby, who had called the chiefs together to select a flag. The artist may have based his image on a much later portrait of him, as Busby was only in his early thirties at the time. To his left is probably Captain George Lambert, whose ship, HMS Alligator – seen at sea in the background – gave a 21-gun salute following the selection of the flag.

The chiefs of the United Tribes went on to sign the Declaration of Independence the following year.

About this item

Alexander Turnbull Library, Nancy Gaynor Falkner (MS-Papers-10912)
Reference: 82-419-01

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

How to cite this page:

Basil Keane, 'He Whakaputanga – Declaration of Independence - Background to the declaration', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 27 September 2016)

Full story by Basil Keane, published 20 Jun 2012