I received my first mark today for my first assignment in the New Zealand school system. And "mark" is the New Zealand equivalent to "grade." Anyhow, my first assignment was an 800-word essay over the Powhiri (Maori ritual of encounter) for my Maori Society and Culture class. I submitted this assignment nearly three weeks ago and finally found the mark posted on Blackboard. I received a 7.9 out of 10, which here in New Zealand is a pretty high A! I am not sure why they rarely give grades higher than an 8.0 out of 10, but apparently they must severely curve everyone's grades. I am satisfied. Tomorrow I will submit my second essay for the class, a 1200-word essay over the Treaty of Waitangi.
Here's the brief back story of that document, a founding document of New Zealand history! After the passing of the Declaration of Independence on October 28, 1835, New Zealand declared themselves the sovereign rulers over a sovereign territory...they no longer had to play nice with the nasty Brits trying to take their land away from them in scandalous behind-the-scenes deals with the New Zealand Land Company. Then, scandalous land deals still commenced and the British felt that they should help the Maori out by passing the Treaty of Waitangi a few years later. These two guys, Freeman and Williams worked on drafting the English and Maori versions of the Treaty...and somewhere along the way, Williams decides to translate the Maori version differently than what was originally said in the English version.
For example, Article 1 of the Treaty states that New Zealand will be under the sovereign rule of the Queen of England. That guy Williams tells the Maori that they still hold sovereign rule and the Queen is more like a governor for them...so the chiefs of the Maori tribes are like, "Ok cool!" Article 2 of the English version of the Treaty states that all Maori can have their land back but they are only allowed to make future land dealings with the Queen of England. Williams again is tricky. He tells the Maori that they have all their land back and any other type of property and they also have the protection of the Queen of England so those scums from the New Zealand Land Company can't deal with them anymore.
Then, another guy Hobson has been in New Zealand trying to get Maori chiefs to sign the Treaty...he needs enough signatures to bring back to England to declare the Treaty official. After about 60 or so signatures, he's like, "Ok that should be enough! The Treaty is official!" He didn't even go throughout all of New Zealand to tell all the Maori about it, so some didn't even know for years after the Treaty was passed that the Treaty even existed. Some network of communication, eh?...
So...my essay was about why the Treaty is regarded as a contentious document.
And today I also took my very first New Zealand school exam...in my Peopling of Polynesia class. I feel like I did pretty well, but I won't officially find out for a few weeks I'm sure. Two questions on the test were essays...I found my hand cramping up halfway through the first response! I am not used to writing out essays, nor am I used to writing in pencil...both are equally miserable. Luckily, I pulled through and was able to complete the exam right before the timer went off. After all that studying, I think I deserve to give my brain a break. Unfortunately I have more impending deadlines soon approaching for studio and thesis, so I won't be able to take too long of a break. Perhaps chocolate will help!