New Zealand Listener

A WORK in PROGRESS

The new version of Dame Claudia Orange’s hefty illustrated history of the Treaty of Waitangi/Te Tiriti o Waitangi, has, she says, been “tweaked all the way through”. It covers the past two decades and has a trove of new photographs.

She hopes it will help people to “understand the present by looking at the past, because the past informs what we are now”.

Her own history, unravelled, illustrates how her lifetime engagement with the treaty and the relationship of Māori and the Crown over 200 years was almost inevitable.

Picture the small, serious Claudia, the youngest of three daughters – “an afterthought” – more than 70 years ago, soaking up urgent tales of Māori needs and experiences around the family kitchen table, often in te reo Māori. Orange’s father, Monty Bell, worked in policy for the Department of Māori Affairs in Gisborne, having become fluent in te reo at school. Māori were regularly at the house to mull and discuss.

“Whina Cooper might call while they were talking. I must have subconsciously absorbed all that and the bias of Pākehā working in the Māori area.”

She remembers “an occasion when the Pākehā boss of Māori Affairs was coming for afternoon tea and Dad asked me to sit in and listen. I must have been

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