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On 15 June 1839, the territory administered by New South Wales was extended to cover New Zealand. This decision was pre-empted by earlier British actions which saw King William IV accept a national flag for New Zealand owned vessels in 1834 and the following year ratify a signed request by the United Tribes of New Zealand for protection from other nations. Both actions were provoked by the unscrupulous practices of traders and whalers, particularly those in the Bay of Islands, where a lack of laws governing Europeans (Pakehas) created problems for Māori who were being pressured to sell their land.
On 14 January 1840, William Hobson, a British Royal Naval Officer, was sworn in as Lieutenant Governor of New Zealand by the Governor of New South Wales, Sir George Gipps. Hobson travelled to the Bay of Islands in New Zealand to take up his new position. Upon his arrival he advised Māori and settlers of his new powers and that land titles would no longer be recognised unless purchased through the Crown. Proclamations of these powers were issued on 30 January 1840 after being printed at the missionary press at Paihia in the Bay of Islands.
Having assumed office Hobson then set about persuading Māori to give their assent to this assumption of power. Over the passage of a few days Hobson, with the aid of administrators and missionaries, put together a treaty document which outlined Māori protection by the Queen, laws for the sale of land, and acknowledged existing ownership of land by Māori. On 6 February 1840, after discussion with chiefs on the lawns of the British Resident’s house in Waitangi, some 45 chiefs signed a treaty of cession, now known as the Treaty of Waitangi.