The Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi) is a document of central importance to the history of New Zealand, its constitution, and its national mythos. It has played a major role in the treatment of the Māori population in New Zealand by successive governments and the wider population, a role that has been especially prominent from the late 20th century. The treaty document is an agreement, not a treaty as recognised in international law, and has no independent legal status, being legally effective only to the extent it is recognised in various statutes. It was first signed on 6 February 1840 by Captain William Hobson as consul for the British Crown and by Māori chiefs (rangatira) from the North Island of New Zealand.
The treaty was written at a time when the New Zealand Company, acting on behalf of large numbers of settlers and would-be settlers, were establishing a colony in New Zealand, and when some Māori leaders had petitioned the British for protection against French ambiti