By Ian Bradford

Recently I wrote to Andrew Little, who is the Treaty negotiations minister. I asked him why the Littlewood version of the Treaty of Waitangi from 1840 was not being used. After some weeks I had a response, not from Mr Little, but from someone in the office of Crown-Maori relations.   

This person stated that the “Littlewood Treaty was a back translation of the Maori version-Te Tiriti O Waitangi.” “It was of no significance for Treaty negotiations, and had historical interest only.” 

Not a back translation

The Littlewood version is dated the 4th February 1840 and the Maori version is dated the 5th February 1840, so how can the Litlewood version be a back translation? 

A back translation means going back to the Maori version and producing a translation in English. We would expect the back translation to be dated some time AFTER the 5th February 1940. Clearly, the Littlewood version is NOT a back translation. 

It is well recognised that the final draft of the Treaty went missing in February 1840. From historical references we know that this document was written by James Busby. Captain William Hobson handed the final English draft to Rev Henry Williams at 4pm on the 4th February 1840 for translation into the Maori version — Te Tiriti O Waitangi. This was translated overnight by Henry Williams and his son Edward, both fluent in the Maori language. The translation was dated 5th February 1840.

Using a fake treaty at Waikato Heads

There were nine copies of the Maori version of the Treaty which were circulated around the country. At the Waikato Heads on 11th April 1840 the Rev Robert Maunsell collected the first five signatures on the Maori text. He ran out of room so collected the remaining signatures on a discarded version of the Treaty in English (an early draft), which he fixed to the back of the Maori text. Although there were only about 40 signatures compared to the more than 500 on the Maori text, this discarded version has been used to make gains for Maori. This is in spite of the fact that the discarded version has 568 words compared to the Maori version of 480 words. There is NO comparison between the two. On the other hand the Littlewood document matches the Maori version word for word.     

Discovering the Littlewood Treaty

In March 1989 an English language version was found in Pukekohe, South Auckland after the death of the mother of the Littlewood family. The family were sorting through the possessions when they came upon a document, with the name Treaty of Waitangi, in a drawer. This document was dated 4th February 1840. Leading handwriting expert Dr Phil Parkinson of the Alexander Turnbull Library, identified the handwriting as belonging to James Busby. It was written on very old paper bearing the W. Tucker, 1833 watermark. 

We can trace the Littlewood name right back to the time of the Treaty. Henry Littlewood was a solicitor and Police magistrate and local settler and American Consul James Clendon was using Henry Littlewood’s legal services. Clendon had been loaned the final draft original by Hobson after a request to the Colonial Secretary. It had been forwarded to him in his capacity as US Consul. It remained in his possession until he lodged it with solicitor Littlewood. Compelling evidence showed that James Clendon was in attendance when the final draft of the Treaty was completed and that the final drafting took place at Clendon’s home. At the same time Clendon made his own copy of the final English text again on W. Tucker paper 1833 and he later forwarded it to the U S Secretary of State on the 20th Feb 1840. 

On the 5th April 1840 American Arctic Explorer Charles Wilkes took a copy of the final draft with Busby’s spelling mistakes to the United States. So that’s at least two copies of this final draft sent overseas. 

The National Archives have English drafts up to the 3rd Fevruary 1840, but there is no final draft there.  So this final draft now known as the Littlewood Treaty is the only body of text with a Preamble, Articles i,  ii, and iii, and Affirmation section. The Littlewood document mirrors the Maori version exactly. 

No full forensic analysis undertaken

Both the Littlewood family in 1989 and the general public in 1992 were promised that a full forensic analysis would be undertaken to determine the pedigree and historical significance of the Littlewood Treaty Document no such results have ever been released to the public.

In Article ii of the Littlewood Treaty the rights spoken of and enshrined by the Treaty are guaranteed “to the chiefs and tribes and to all the people of New Zealand.” This is exactly what the Maori version says “ ki nga Rangitira ki nga hapu – ki nga tangata katoa o Nu Tirani”. The text in both languages guarantees equality for all the people of New Zealand, with NO special customary rights set aside exclusively for any one ethnic group.

 Under both treaties there is NO provision for a partnership between Maori and the Crown. It is clear Maori ceded their sovereignty to Queen Victoria. Further Queen Victoria guarantees to the chiefs and tribes and all the people of New Zealand the possession of their lands, dwellings and all their property (taonga). 

Manipulation by the Waitangi Tribunal

In versions used by the Waitangi Tribunal the phrase: “all the people of New Zealand” has been written out! So it reads as to apply to Maori only.  The Treaty grievance industry refer back to a rough draft written by Busby dated the 3rd Feb 1840. This rough draft contains the contentious phrase added to land and dwellings, of forests and fisheries. Once again, there is no mention of forests and fisheries in the Maori verison — Te Tiriti O Waitangi.  

The Treaty of Waitangi version that is used in all of our legislation today is based on a composite English text assembled by Hobson’s Secretary James Freeman, from the early rough notes of the treaty. In the six months following the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, Freeman concocted a variety of “Royal Style” versions earmarked for overseas dispatch. He did not consult the final draft because it did not contain the pretentious language that he felt was befitting for royalty or higher stations. Our Present day legislation is therefore based wholly on Busby’s 3rd of February rough draft. 

The Tribunal and our legislators are knowingly using a rejected and discarded early rough draft version when fashioning and interpreting our laws, which was superseded by a final draft.   

The meddling of Hugh Kawharu

In 1989, Professor Hugh Kawharu decided to give his translation of the Maori version of the Treaty. He conveniently changed the meaning of three key words:

  1. Kawanatanga meant sovereignty  but Kawharu made it “government”
  2. Rangitiratanga meant possession.  Kawharu made it “chieftainship”
  3. Taonga meant simply property but Kawharu extended it to mean “treasures”

Since 1989 The Waitangi Tribunal uses Kawharu’s modified version. Kawharu served on the Tribunal for a time and was also a claimant. A definite conflict of interest there. 

In fact, all the legislators had to do was to consult the clear wording of the 1840 Maori Tiriti o Waitangi for guidance when drafting policies and Acts of Parliament.  Unfortunately, the original Maori text has never been used in any of our legislation.  

We have an English version – the final draft, the Littlewood Treaty which exactly matches the Maori version. Billions of dollars have been handed out to Maori on the basis of words from the fake Freeman Treaty and the late 20th century bogus Kawharu Treaty.  

The Waitangi Tribunal is gravely in error

The only true copy of the 1840 treaty is the Maori version:  Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The Waitangi Tribunal was formed in 1975. There have always been speakers of Maori on the Tribunal. Yet the Maori version was never used. Instead they used an obsolete and composite English draft written on the 2nd and 3rd of Feb 1840.

 Like all English versions except the Littlewood version it did not in any way match the Maori version. 

The Tribunal deliberately avoided introducing the “final English Draft” text of the 4th February 1840 – the Littlewood “Treaty” – from which Te Tiriti was translated as that wording was counter- productive to their long – term political aims. 

They also avoided using the official back translation of 1869 issued under a formal request of the NZ Government to the Native Department. Because the final English draft was lost in February 1840, the New Zealand Government officially requested a back translation of the Maori text. It was produced by Mr T E Young of the Native Department. In lieu of the missing final draft, this is an excellent substitute as it reads exactly the same as the Littlewood document. 

The activists of 1975 got their way in getting the defective, rejected 3rd Feb rough English draft, composite text to be recognised as “The Official English Version” and sits alongside Te Tiriti as our legislative text. This formal Royal style document produced by Freeman, (Hobson’s secretary), could not have been used for translation to the Maori version. There were far too many words too difficult to translate plus the fact that words such as Europe, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, forests, fisheries, favour, extension etc., did not end up in the Maori text.   

Using the totally distorted new interpretations of the Treaty, which cannot be sustained by any historical documents a confederation of Maori activists and successive governments have systematically defrauded all the people of New Zealand and divested them of their State-Owned wealth.   

Absolutely nothing in Te Tiriti O Waitangi allows for such things as segmenting off large lumps of New Zealand’s precious resources like fisheries to be given exclusively to Maori.

Nothing in the treaty justifies the theft of our laboriously hand-planted forests and public lands, foreshore and seabed, radio spectrum frequencies and so on. 

Most don’t realise that ALL full and final settlements with iwi for any perceived or real outstanding grievances and loose ends were finished by the period 1944 to 1947 under the Fraser Government. 

Sir Apirana Ngata was right

Sir Apirana Ngata, the great Maori leader and national politician was a man of integrity. He explained the Treaty in 1922. 

He is clear about the following:  

  • Maori ceded sovereignty to the Queen. (Article 1). This means the government of all their lands.  
  • In Article 2 : “ The Queen of England confirms and guarantees, to the Chiefs and Tribes and to all the people of New Zealand the full possession of their lands and all their possessions… The version used by the Waitangi Tribunal had “all the people of New Zealand” deleted so that it applies only to Maori. 
  • Taonga meant possessions not treasures.  
  • There is no mention of forests and fisheries in Te Tiriti o Waitangi.     

Furthermore the original Te Tiriti makes no mention of a partnership or “principles.”  


Doutre, Martin:  The Littlewood Treaty, The True English Text of the Treaty of Waitangi.  De Danaan Publishers 2005

Wishart, Ian :   Waitangi Treaty Bombshell- The end of the golden gravy train. Investigate, Dec 2003, Jan 2004.

Butler, Mike:  Littlewood Treaty to Disappear. Home/Opinion, August 2016

Ngata, Sir Apirana: The Treaty of Waitangi, an Explanation. Translated by MR Jones, 1922

Doutré, Martin: Response to Dr Donald Loveridge’s Article. 14th July 2006. 

Childs, Roger: What did the Treaty of Waitangi say? Waikanae Watch, 6th Feb 2021

Baker, Ross, Maorification, Treaty of Waitangi. Aug 20th 2011, One NZ Foundation.