October 28th, 1835 – The United Tribes of New Zealand


The United Tribes of New Zealand was established on October 28th, 1835  with the signature of the Declaration of Independence.

Treaty of Waitangi

The Treaty of Waitangi signing.

The confederation was convened in 1834 by British Resident James Busby. Busby was sent to New Zealand in 1833 by the Colonial Office to serve as the official British Resident, and was anxious to set up a framework for trade between Māori and Europeans; the Māori chiefs of northern part of the North Island agreed to meet with him in March 1834. Rumors began spreading that the Frenchman, Baron Charles de Thierry, was going to set up an independent state at Hokianga. The United Tribes declared their independence on October 28th, 1835 with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. 

Māori dress reform

European influenced Māori women.

In 1836, the British Crown under King William IV recognized the United Tribes and its flag. Busby’s efforts were entirely too successful – as the islands settled down, the British began to consider an outright annexation. In February 1840, a number of chiefs of the United Tribes convened at Waitangi to sign the Treaty of Waitangi.

By 1839, the Declaration of the United Tribes had 52 signatories from Northland and a few signatories from other parts, notably from the ariki of the Waikato Tainui, Pōtatau Te Wherowhero. During the Musket Wars (1807 – 1842), Ngāpuhi and other tribes raided and occupied many parts of North Island but eventually reverted to their previous territorial status as other tribes acquired European weapons.

Treaty of Waitangi

Māori Warriors

From a New Zealand standpoint under the settler government, the Confederation has been considered to have been assimilated into a new entity after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and the Declaration is viewed in large part as merely a historical document. In recent times, questions have risen regarding the relevance of the Declaration in constitutional matters.

“Today in History” on The Pandora Society dot com is primarily focused on Victorian and Edwardian history and does not always have a direct connection to Steampunk, Dieselpunk, or whatever punk; in fact it rarely does, but it is our hope that in sharing these historical events they might serve as some inspiration to the writers in our community to create potential alternative history stories which we look forward to reading 🙂


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