Governor Hobson represented Queen Victoria on the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in February 1840. Hobson greeted each Chief who came forward to sign the treaty with the following pledge : “he iwi tahi tatou” – “we are now one people”(1).
Hobson’s pledge to the chiefs laid the foundation of New Zealand’s democracy: One citizen: one vote, regardless of race, colour, religion or gender.
This pledge, “he iwi tahi tatou”, that the people of New Zealand were united under the law, is enshrined in section 19(1) of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of race(2).
New Zealand should be a society in which all citizens have the same rights, irrespective of when we or our ancestors arrived.