Opinion by Ross Baker, Spokesperson for the One New Zealand Foundation Inc.
On a recent visit to Te Papa I was surprised that there was no mention or display of Queen Victoria’s Royal Charter dated 16 November 1840.
The One New Zealand Foundation Inc wrote to Te Papa under the Official Information Act on the 17 February 2014 asking, “Does Te Papa have a copy of Queen Victoria’s Royal Charter and if so, why is it not given its rightful place at Te Papa?” On the 23 March 2014 I received the following reply from Clair McClintock, Senior Advisor, Office of the Chief Executive, Te Papa Museum of New Zealand, Wellington, “Te Papa does not have a copy of the Charter. As you are aware, a copy is held at Archives New Zealand. However, we are well aware of its significance in establishing the colony of NZ and would take that into consideration if we were re-developing an exhibition as e.g. on the Treaty of Waitangi or the founding of NZ”.
The One New Zealand Foundation Inc is absolutely appalled that Te Papa does not have a copy of Queen Victoria’s Royal Charter dated the 16 November 1840. The Royal Charter has far more significance to the majority of New Zealanders than the Treaty of Waitangi and should take pride of place at Te Papa.
Queen Victoria’s Royal Charter dated the 16th November 1840 is the most important document in the Constitution Room in Wellington. It was the document that made New Zealand into an independent British Colony with its first Governor, first Constitution and a government to enact laws with courts and judges to enforce those laws, all under the watchful eye of Great Britain. It was our true Founding Document and first Constitution.
We became independent from NSW on the 16th November 1840.
Once the 540 chiefs had signed the Treaty of Waitangi, it had achieved its purpose; to cede the chief’s territories and governments to Queen Victoria in return for, “the same rights as the people of England“. Lt. Governor Hobson was not instructed or had the authority to give Maori special rights in the Treaty not already enjoyed by all the people of England. With New Zealand now a British Colony, all the people of New Zealand came under the jurisdiction of one flag and one law, irrespective of race, colour or creed To wait until Te Papa “re-developing an exhibition as e.g. on the Treaty of Waitangi or the founding of NZ“, will further misleads the thousands of New Zealanders and people from overseas that visits Te Papa each year to learn our history.
Now is the time Te Papa must be “re-developed” as it has misled the people for far too long by omitting Queen Victoria’s Royal Charter dated the 16 November 1840.
November the 16th should be celebrated as “New Zealand Day”.