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Treaty of Waitangi analysis

Te Tiriti o Waitangi / Treaty of Waitangi analysis applies the terms and concepts in the texts of the Treaty to policy development and implementation.

On this page:

Why you should use it
What it involves
What you will get out of it
Ideal circumstances for use
References, guides and key readings
Centres of expertise

About Treaty of Waitangi analysis

Treaty of Waitangi analysis is based on guidance developed by Te Arawhiti – the Office for Māori Crown Relations. It helps you to determine the influence the Treaty should have in a particular context or circumstance to develop an approach, engagement and solutions that uphold the Treaty of Waitangi, which may include Māori leading policy development or implementation.

Why you should use it 

Treaty of Waitangi analysis helps you to:

  • improve policy quality. Policy and services are increasingly being designed and delivered to incorporate Treaty and te ao Māori analysis. This helps to better understand the impact on Māori and increases the likelihood that the policy will work for Māori
  • support the building of closer partnerships with Māori by appropriately recognising the interests and role Māori may have in policy development
  • meet the expectations introduced in the Public Service Act 2020, which reflect the contemporary needs and opportunities in the Māori Crown relationship. 

What it involves 

  • Applying the concepts and texts of the Treaty of Waitangi at each stage of policy development. This includes at the very beginning of a policy process – when you are identifying a policy problem or opportunity, and scoping the nature and size of the issue – through to implementation and evaluation.
  • Working through a series of questions (set out in the Treaty of Waitangi guidance) when developing your advice. The questions are based on the three articles of the Treaty, and are put simply in the guidance as:
    • Article One – the government gained the right to govern (kawanatanga)
    • Article Two – the Crown promised that Māori will have the right to make decisions over resources and taonga which they wish to retain (rangatiratanga)
    • Article Three – the Crown promised that its obligations to New Zealand citizens are owed equally to Māori.

There may not always be consensus between the Crown and Māori in relation to the Treaty and its application. This does not prevent the Crown and Māori working together.

What you will get out of it

  • Policy outcomes that reflect the Treaty of Waitangi as a founding document of government in New Zealand and are informed by an appropriate understanding of Treaty / Māori interests.
  • Policy outcomes that are aligned with current expectations of how to apply the terms and concepts in the texts of the Treaty.
  • An appreciation of kawanatanga and rangatiratanga and their application to your policy.
  • Knowledge of how to conduct policy development and implementation that minimises risks of those actions and decisions not being compliant with the Treaty.
  • Improved experience in Treaty of Waitangi analysis to help build your capability to better support the Crown to uphold its Treaty obligations.

Ideal circumstances for use 

  • You want to show transparently that the Treaty of Waitangi terms and concepts were thoroughly considered as part of the policy development process.
  • You want to build closer partnerships between Māori and the Crown on policy solutions.
  • Polices that don’t have any immediately obvious Treaty of Waitangi / Māori interests. In these cases, using the Treaty of Waitangi analysis becomes more important to ensure less obvious implications are not missed.


  • Treaty of Waitangi analysis uses the text of the Treaty as its focus. It in no way replaces or diminishes the need to consider:
    • existing statutory obligations, as well as Treaty jurisprudence and guidance focussed on the principles of the Treaty
    • relevant Treaty claims, settlement negotiations and commitments, and any litigation risks.
  • Treaty of Waitangi analysis takes time and needs to be built into your policy process during the commissioning stage. It should be used in conjunction with Te Arawhiti’s Engagement with Māori Framework and Guidelines.
  • Treaty of Waitangi analysis poses the questions you need to ask to arrive at answers which are context dependent – but it won’t give you the answers outright.

References, guides and key readings

Cabinet Circular on Te Tiriti o Waitangi / Treaty of Waitangi Guidance
Treaty of Waitangi analysis CO (19) 5 is based on guidance developed by Te Arawhiti – the Office for Māori Crown Relations.

Engagement with Māori Framework and Guidelines
Advice developed by Te Arawhiti to help agencies to improve their engagement with Māori.

The Settlement Portal – Te Haeata
An online record of Treaty settlement commitments to help agencies and settled groups search for and manage settlement commitments.

Regulatory Institutions and Practices (PDF link, pages 160-163)
Productivity Commission’s 2014 report which includes a list of 36 Principal Acts that make reference to the Treaty or Treaty principles.

He Tirohanga o Kawa ki te Tiriti o Waitangi | Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi
Te Puni Kōkiri’s booklet on the principles of the Treaty as expressed by the Courts and the Waitangi Tribunal.

Providing for the Treaty of Waitangi in legislation and supporting policy design
This guidance can help policy makers think critically about how to provide for the Treaty in legislative proposals and policy design. It guides policy practitioners in collaborating closely with Māori when considering options, both legislative and non-legislative.  

Centres of expertise 

Te Arawhiti is the government agency that leads on Treaty of Waitangi analysis.  Email Arnu Turvey, Policy and Legal Manager at

Last updated: 
Thursday, 26 January 2023

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