James Belich differentiates between nominal and substantive sovereignty discussing changes in power between Maori and Pakeha in the years between 1830-1867. Belich emphasises that while British sovereignty was claimed with the signing of the Treaty in 1840, this was merely nominal. Substantive sovereignty wasn’t achieved until 1860 (Belich 181). This opposes the orthodox, Eurocentric narrative of New Zealand history which portrays Maori as the victim of fatal impact (Belich 197). Belich accounts the colonial office’s decision to form a treaty as a consequence of the myth of empire (Belich 187). Essentially Belich argues against fatal impact theory by showing that through five different versions of the Treaty, Maori (though not all) accepted British in New Zealand through acceptance of agents of state, land sales and the signing of the treaty. Maori essentially held substantive sovereignty until 1860 (Belich 181). However, the British gradually undermined Maori power through conquest, swamping and conversion through Europeanisation and subordination (192).
Belich, James. “Chapter 8 Empire?” Making Peoples: A History of the New Zealanders, from Polynesian Settlement to the End of the Nineteenth Century. Honolulu: U of Hawai’i, 1996. 179-203. Print.
The Treaty of Waitangi allowed the British to establish their own concept of New Zealand as a nation or ‘imagined community’ (Whyte). This is visually represented in our flag which excludes Maori through the use of the Union Jack (Whyte). The predominant use of blue as opposed to red which Maori associate with symbolises ongoing inequality between races established by the treaty (Whyte).
Whyte, Dick. “Aotearoa, Colonisation and Visual Culture.” Conversations in Creative Cultures. Massey University, Wellington. Aug. 2016. Lecture.