This Declaration was signed by 34 northern Maori Chiefs on the 28th October 1835. It was promoted and signatures collected as late as 1839. There seems no doubt that the British Government ratified the document and recognised that right of Maori to autonomy over Aotearoa.
The debate over sovereignty of Aotearoa is a long and complex argument. The Book List would give some insight to the reader on the subject, my own feeling is that the Maori certainly had political awareness (in the British sense) in matters regarding alliances, trade and commerce and would no doubt evolved some form of National politics (e.g the `King' movement of 1850/60). Settlers and seaman seem less aware of government (law and order) in the early 1800s than Maori.
HE WAKAPUTANGA O TE RANGATIRATANGA O NU TIRENI
(A DECLARATION OF THE INDEPENDENCE OF NEW ZEALAND)
1. Ko Matou, ko nga Tina Rangatira o nga iwi o Nu Tireni raro mai o Hauraki kua oti nei te huihui i Waitangi i Tokerau i te ra 28 o Oketopa 1835, ka wakaputa i te Rangatiratanga o to matou wenua a ka meatia ka wakaputaia e matou he Wenua Rangatira, kia huaina, Ko te Wakaminenga o nga Hapu o Nu Tireni.
2. Ko te Kingitanga ko te mana i te wenua o te wakaminenga o Nu Tireni ka meatia nei kei nga Tino Rangatira anake i to matou huihuinga, a ka mea hoki e kore e tukua e matou te wakarite ture ki te tahi hunga ke atu, me te tahi Kawanatanga hoki kia meatia i te wenua a te wakaminenga o Nu Tireni, ko nga tangata anake e meatia nei e matou e wakarite ana ki te ritenga o o matou ture e meatia nei matou i to matou huihuinga.
3. Ko matou ko nga tino Rangatira ka mea nei kia huihui ki te runanga ki Waitangi a te Ngahuru i tenei tau i tenei tau ki te wakarite ture kia tika ai te wakawakanga, kia mau pu te rongo kia mutu te he kia tika te hokohoko a ka mea hoki ki nga tauiwi o runga, kia wakarerea te wawai, ki maharara ai ki te wakaoranga o to matou wena, a kia uru ratou ki te wakaminenga o Nu Tireni.
4. Ka mea matou kia tuhituhia he pukapuka ki te ritenga o tenei o to matou wakaputanga nei ki te Kingi o Ingarani hei kawe atu i to matou aroha nana hoki i wakaae ki te Kara mo matou. A no te mea ka atawai matou, ka tiaki i nga pakeha e noho nei i uta, e rere mai ana ki te hokohoko, koia ka mea ai matou ki te Kingi kia waiho hei matua ki a matou i to matou Tamarikitanga kei wakakahoretia to matou Rangatiratanga.
Kua wakaaetia katoatia e matou i tenei ra i te 28 Oketopa, 1835, ki te aroaro o te Reireneti o te Kingi o Ingarani.
DECLARATION OF THE INDEPENDENCE OF NEW ZEALAND
1. We, the hereditary chiefs and heads of tribes of the Northern parts of New Zealand; being assembled at Waitangi, in the Bay of Islands, on the 28th day of October, 1835, declare the independence of our country, which is hereby constituted and declared to be an Independent State, under the designation of The United Tribes of New Zealand.
2. All sovereign power and authority within the territories of The United Tribes of New Zealand is hereby declared to reside entirely and exclusively in the hereditary chiefs and heads of tribes in their collective capacity, who also declare that they will not permit any legislative authority separate from themselves in their collective capacity to exist, nor any function of government to be exercised within the said territories, unless by persons appointed by them, and acting under the authority of laws regularly enacted them in Congress assembled.
3. The hereditary chiefs and heads of tribes agree to meet in Congress at Waitangi in the autumn of each year, for the purpose of framing laws for the dispensation of justice, the preservation of peace and good order, and the regulation of trade; and they cordially invite the Southern tribes to lay aside their private animosities an to consult the safety and welfare of our common country, by joining the Confederation of the United Tribes.
4. They also agree to send a copy of this declaration to His Majesty the King of England, to thank him for his acknowledgement of their flag; and in return for the friendship and protection they have shown, are prepared to show, to such of his subjects as settled in their country, or resorted to its shores for the purpose of trade, they entreat that he will continue to be the parent of their infant State, and that he will become its Protector from all attempts upon its independence.
Agreed to unanimously on this 28th day of October, 1835, in the presence of His Britannic Majesty's Resident.
(here follow the signature or marks of thirty-five hereditary chiefs or heads of Tribes, which form a fair representation of The Tribes of New Zealand from the North Cape to the latitude of the River Thames.)
English witnesses - Henry Williams; Missionary, C.M.S.
George Clarke, C.M.S.
Gilbert Mair, Merchant
I certify that the above is correct copy of the Declaration of the Chiefs, according to the translation of Missionaries who have resided ten years and upwards in the country; and it is transmitted to His Most Gracious Majesty the King of England, at the unanimous request of the chiefs. signed James Busby, British Resident at New Zealand.