Andrew Gunn: When treaties collide
SATIRE: New Zealand! Tell us again, O Famous Historian, of the Great Treaty that was signed there that storied day one early February.
The signing of the Great Treaty! What a sight to behold that must have been! The Representatives of the Empire had travelled from far across the sea, carried in the wondrous conveyances of the age, and with full entourage.
Ah yes. The square-rigged tall ship, borne along by the sure winds of the Roaring Forties. And the Royal Marine escort, gaily bedecked in red and white and brandishing the ceremonial muskets.
No no, the Gulfstream G650 executive jet, borne aloft by the gentle whirr of twin Rolls-Royce turbofans. Plus a privately-contracted security detail, all talking into their sleeves and patting whatever was in their concealed shoulder holsters.
Really? I'm a little hazy on the historical details. Still, what a reception the locals must have put on for them. The pomp and circumstance of the full powhiri.
Yeah nah, it was more like three or four people, a quick hongi and a "We'll let you get on with it, we're double-parked."
Oh. Still, what a magnificent setting that must have been – the meeting house, the manicured lawn, the cloudless sky and bright blue waters of the –
The clockless walls and bright blue chips of the casino, to be precise.
The Casino. That's where it was signed.
Was it? I really am rusty on this. Anyhow, remind me oh Wise and Bearded One: what were the terms of this Great Treaty?
Well, the locals would give up Certain Things, and in return they would receive Many Benefits. Stop me if I'm getting too technical.
No, not at all. Yes, it's all coming back to me now. Just to refresh the memory, what were the Certain Things the locals gave up?
Now that's a bit of a curly one, because there's a couple of different translations of the document in question. According to one of them, the locals would have to give up their sovereignty.
Their sovereignty? That's a biggie.
That's what some of the locals said.
What did the Representatives of the Empire say?
They said "Don't you worry about that, Sonny Jim, just sign on the dotted line. Welcome to the free-trade Empire, and have a tariff-free Hostess Twinkie."
And so a new Golden Age began!
And verily and undeniably there were manifold benefits. And a few hiccups.
What sort of hiccups?
Reneged promises, land disputes, occupations, open warfare, and more court hearings than you can shake a horse-hair wig at.
But it all got sorted out, didn't it?
Oh yes. In a couple of hundred years, give or take a decade, sure.
That long? I guess the people who live in New Zealand these days will think twice before signing up to something like that again.
Funny you should mention that…