The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840. It was an agreement between the British Crown and Māori chiefs. Prior to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, Māori conducted their affairs in accordance with tikanga Māori (Māori customary protocols). As a consequence of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, the English legal system was established as the legal system of New Zealand. Today the Treaty is widely accepted to be a constitutional document that establishes and guides the relationship between the Crown (the Government of New Zealand) and Māori.
The Waitangi Tribunal was established in 1975. It is a permanent commission of inquiry charged with making recommendations on claims brought by Māori relating to actions or omissions of the Crown that potentially breach the promises made in the Treaty.
See the Treaty of Waitangi page on our New Zealand Legal Research Guide. This includes information about the Treaty, links to articles and books, and information about and cases in the Waitangi Tribunal.