On 28th May 1840, the HMS Herald arrived at Akaroa with the Treaty of Waitangi on board. Commissioner Major Thomas Bunbury and interpreter Edward Marsh Williams were there to collect more signatures. This was known as the ‘Herald-Bunbury copy’.
As the men travelled around the South Island, they were faced with wide spread disagreement of the Treaty and only managed to collect 27 signatures in all. Two of those were from the Ngai Tahu. Due the arrival of whalers and sealers in the 1830’s, Williams found himself out of work as many of the Ngai Tahu could speak very good English.
The Ngai Tahu began to contest the Treaty nine years later, after the sale of land to The New Zealand Company and the Canterbury Association. Maitiaha Tiramorehu became the main voice of protest during this time, stating concerns over the lack of promised respect for Maori land reserves/food gathering places, the currency of greenstone, and where were the schools and hospitals that were to be built for the iwi?
Looking back at the Ngai Tahu of the 1840’s, they saw the arrival of the main flood of Europeans differently than other Maori tribes in New Zealand. There were only roughly 500 Ngai Tahu in Canterbury when the Canterbury Association surveyors were marking out our future roads. Years of struggling against white man diseases (measles wiped out hundreds of Maori) and the massacres from the North Island Ngai Toa in the 1830’s left the Ngai Tahu vulnerable and nervous. White man offered protection and new strength to the region. White man soon fell from that pedestal.
The first claim from the Ngai Tahu was made with the Waitangi Tribunal in 1986.
The HMS Herald had begun her service in 1821 under the name of HMS Termagant. In 1824, now under the name of Herald, she became a survey ship. After her service in New Zealand, the Herald faced war when she took part what is called the ‘First Opium War’. Next she carried the word of God as a floating chapel. The curtain fell in 1862 when the Herald was sold to the wreckers.