Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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In Search of a Treaty Partner: Who, or What, is 'the Crown'?

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posted on 2021-11-08, 08:51 authored by Hayward, Janine Alyth Deaker

In New Zealand, 'the Crown' is frequently referred to in contemporary discourse relating to the Treaty of Waitangi. This thesis investigates the identity of 'the Crown' as a treaty partner with Maori. There are major problems in identifying the Crown, and these problems have serious implications for the 'Maori' treaty partner. First, there is a problem of consistency in the identity of the Crown. Analysis shows that a range of institutions and individuals involved in the negotiation of treaty issues in contemporary New Zealand society is identified as 'the Crown'. The application of theoretical analysis of the role of symbols in politics shows that the Crown symbol is frequently used and widely applied in treaty debate. This is, it is argued, because use of 'the Crown' brings legitimacy and authority to the actions and policies of those entities it identifies. The flexibility and popularity of 'the Crown' symbol creates a problem for Maori, however, because 'the Crown' is not consistently naming the same thing. There is a second major and interrelating problem: the evolution of the Crown. In 1840, 'the Crown' title was used in relation to the Queen, and later was used to describe settler government. Most recently 'the Crown' has come to incorporate local and regional as well as central government. This evolution in the identity of the Crown has frustrated attempts by Maori to identify and negotiate with their treaty partner. In particular, case studies of local government and resource management law reforms in New Zealand demonstrate that Maori themselves have attempted to resist the evolution of the Crown and assert their own interpretation of the appropriate identity for their treaty partner. Having demonstrated the problems of 'the Crown' as well as the frequency of its use, there is the question of the broader constitutional relationship between Māori and the Crown to consider. A discussion of the role of the Crown in Canada illustrates some of the points made earlier in the thesis and demonstrates the unique position of the Crown in New Zealand. In addition, it is argued with regard to constitutional reforms facing New Zealand in the 1990s, that the future development of New Zealand's rapidly evolving constitution must consider the particular relationship between Maori and the Crown.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Political Science

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations


McLeay, Elizabeth