Kiwis seemingly have little clue about the details of the Treaty of Waitangi, including what year the historic document was signed.

NZ Herald Focus hit the streets of downtown Auckland to ask people basic questions about what is generally considered to be the founding document of New Zealand.

Asked what year the Treaty was signed, one man said, "18 something?"

"Oh it would've been a long time ago — no idea, I have no idea," one woman said.


"I'm going to say, like, 1944," one lady proudly, but incorrectly, pronounced.

The year 1860 proved to be one of the closer guesses to the correct year of 1840.

When asked what the intention of the Treaty was, one woman replied, "oh my gosh, this is really hard".

"It was to give the Islanders and Maoris better rights," another lady said.

"It was about the Maori and English coming together and having a collective agreement on life in New Zealand and also having the Queen looking after the Maori," one woman claimed.

When asked what the Treaty means to New Zealanders there were a variety of answers.

"I just think like a weekend to commemorate a real big miscommunication between the settlers and the Maoris," one woman said.

"I think it's a great thing, I think it could've gone a lot worse, I think it's a great thing for them," a woman said.

"It's cultural identity, If we didn't have the English we wouldn't be who we are, and if we didn't have the Maori we wouldn't be who we are either. So it really needs to be some sort of celebration of the fact that New Zealand is directly individual of such things," one lady said.

The Treaty was first signed on February 6, 1840, by North Island Maori chiefs and representatives of the British Crown.

It resulted in the declaration of British sovereignty over New Zealand by Lieutenant Governor William Hobson.

Past Waitangi Day celebrations have been marred by controversy.

•Last year the atmosphere was tense because of opposition of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, leading to increased security.

•Former Prime Minister John Key did not attend last year's official celebrations in Waitangi because he would not have been allowed to speak at the powhiri at Te Tii Marae.

•Prime Minister Bill English will not attend this year's celebrations , instead he will be hosted by Auckland iwi Ngati Whatua Orakei at Bastion Pt.

•The first protest against the commemoration was organised in 1971 by activist group Nga Tamatoa, and in 1983 police in riot gear faced off with protesters.

•In 1984, a 4000-strong hikoi from Ngaruawahia to Waitangi was organised by Eva Rickard and Titewhai Harawira.

•In 2004 then Leader of the Opposition Don Brash was hit with mud as he entered the Treaty grounds.