Principles of the Treaty

The Waitangi Tribunal and Treaty principles

When inquiring into Māori Treaty claims, the Waitangi Tribunal must determine whether any Crown act or omission was or is inconsistent with the principles of the Treaty. Each Tribunal panel must determine not only whether the Crown has acted in breach of Treaty principles, but also which principles should apply to the claims before it.

For this reason, the Waitangi Tribunal does not have a single set of Treaty principles that are to be applied in assessing each claim. Over the years, however, some core principles have emerged from Tribunal reports, which have been applied to the varying circumstances raised by the claims.

These principles are often derived not just from the strict terms of the Treaty’s two texts, but also from the surrounding circumstances in which the Treaty agreement was entered into.

For examples of the Waitangi Tribunal's interpretation of the Treaty principles, please see the Tribunal's reports.

See also:

  • Janine Hayward, ‘"Flowing from the Treaty’s Words": The Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi’, in The Waitangi Tribunal: Te Roopu Whakamana i te Tiriti o Waitangi, ed Janine Hayward and Nicola R Wheen (Bridget Williams Books: Wellington, 2004), pp29-40
  • Te Puni Kōkiri, He Tirohanga ō Kawa ki te Tiriti o Waitangi: A Guide to the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi as expressed by the Courts and the Waitangi Tribunal (Te Puni Kōkiri: Wellington, 2002)

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