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Discuss about the Reciprocity in Subordinate Relationships.

The treaty of Waitangi was first signed in 1840 by the British Crown representatives and some M?ori chiefs from New Zealand which resulted with British sovereignty over New Zealand. The treaty represents some principles which the British and the M?ori made an agreement to form a nation of New Zealand (Temm, 1990). The articles of the treaty pointed that the sovereignty of New Zealand would be ceded to Britain, that they would get the right to their land and other resources and the Crown got exclusive rights to buy land and the M?ori given the rights and privileges of British subjects (Burns, 1989).  Subsequently, New Zealand became a colony of the Crown. Successive governments alienated the M?ori land and resources without the M?ori consent of compensation. The Waitangi tribunal of 1975 was to investigate accusations by the M?ori against the Crown for breaching the treaty principles and to give recommendations to the government on compensation (Belgrave, 2005). This provided a means of investigating the grievances against previous government and means of settlement. This paper will discuss the principles of the treaty and how these principles can be applied in the work environment.

There is no one agreed list of the treaty principles. The Waitangi tribunal and the courts identify principles in each case. Some principles developed over the span of time while others are now fully developed yet others regarded as controversial (Hayward, 2012). Various principles have been applied to different situations where claims have been raised. Some of the principles that were developed from the Te Tau Ihu Tribunal as they were seen to be appropriate to the inquiry include “partnership, reciprocity, autonomy, active protection, options, mutual benefit, equity, equal treatment and redress (New Zealand Government, 2016)”. These principles are among which will be discussed in this section and their application at the work place.

The treaty implied a partnership would exist between the two parties and each side was expected to act reasonably and in good faith which is a typical obligation in all partnerships (Te Puni, 2002). One obligation to the partnership was the M?ori needed to be consulted to get their informed consent about the correct right holders whenever there was a transaction regarding their land and any other resources. The partners are of equal status and there is need for accountability and compromise in the partnership.


Partnerships are reciprocal in nature and usually involve exchange for mutual benefit and advantage. The M?ori had ceded the governance of their country to the Crown in exchange for full authority to their land and people and for protection. They expected settlement of their country to be fair and mutually advantageous to both parties.

The Crown was expected to protect the M?ori people’s autonomy as they had guaranteed. This was the ability of the M?ori communities to self govern as was the case over the years. They were supposed to drive their own politics, economic and social activities and to behave according to them. They were supposed to retain their customs and institutions and choose their leaders and determine their land issues.

The Crown had a duty to protect the M?ori people and their land and all other resources. This requires the full consultation with the people and fair process by the Crown and decision making by the people whose interests were being protected. The M?ori were promised protection of their rights and their interests at the time of the treaty which was meant to secure their acceptance of the treaty. The Crown had an obligation to protect the M?ori in retention of their tribal authority in their community affairs and to live according to their culture (Te Puni, 2002).

It was envisaged in the treaty that there would be two sets of people in New Zealand each with their own laws and customers to govern them with an interface governed by mutual respect and partnership. M?ori’s laws were guaranteed in the treaty and protected and they were to have choices in the new community. They were to continue with their traditional way of life or to adapt to the developing new society or to choose to combine the two worlds without coersion.

The two parties to the treaty were expected to benefit from it and the needs of both groups of people needed to be provided for and that sometimes there needed to be compromise to achieve this objective (Te Puni, 2002). The two groups of people, the settlers and the M?ori people, were supposed to retain or obtain resources to help them develop in the new nation they were sharing. The M?ori who sold their land were to have more value in what they retained to ensure they got full benefits from the settlement. The settlement was thus supposed to be of mutual benefit to both groups of people and thus they were supposed to retain sufficient land and resources to achieve this.


The Crown was expected to act fairly in the protection of interests of both the settlers and the M?ori people. The settlers’ interest were not supposed to be given priority over those of the M?ori. The M?ori were not supposed to be disadvantaged but if this were to be the principle of equity required that there were active measures that were put in place to address the disadvantages and restore balance.

This principle required the Crown to treat all the M?ori groups fairly and equally and not favor one over the other. None of the groups was supposed to be treated with unfair advantage over the others. Their circumstances, their interest and their rights were broadly the same and thus were to get equal treatment.

In case the Crown was in breach of any of these principles of the treaty and the M?ori people were found to have suffered prejudice, then the Crown had a duty to correct the matter. The Crown is expected to take action to restore its honor and integrity and the dignity and status of the M?ori people. Past wrongs would definitely lead to redress and the Crown is expected to restore remedy and resolve any breaches to the treaty. This would include compromise from both sides and ensure no new inequities were created. Reconciliation was required for adequate redress and to enable the M?ori people restored themselves as people and thereafter commit and adhere to the treaty of Waitangi.

Partnership is a critical element of labor and employment policies considered by government, employers and also by trade unions with a growing interest and attention in it (Guest & Peccei, 2001).  At the work place, this principle can be cultivated by encouraging employee consultation, involvement and participation in the day to day organization activities. The individual employee contribution should be valued and their interests are met by encouraging them to make decisions concerning issues that relate to their work.

Reciprocity is especially important in managerial relationships and also between members and leaders. It relates to the outcomes at work whether they are positive or negative in manger subordinate relationships. It relates to the obligation that people at work will have based on past behavior (Uhl-Bien & Maslyn, 2003). It is therefore important that employees feel treated well at work so that they can have positive reciprocity. If they feel the treatment is not good it might result in negative reciprocity. An organization also needs to have proper guidance on how to handle negative reciprocity as it affects productivity.

Active Protection

Individual autonomy combined with low levels of monitoring might lead to low performance. However, higher trust leads to higher team performance when individual autonomy is lower (Langfred, 2004). This principle can lead to increased work performance when individuals and teams are trusted to do their work and enhanced with moderated mediating role. Individuals should be given autonomy but monitored so that performance is not affected negatively and motivation continues to increase.

Active protection of employees’ rights and interest at work should be encouraged so that employees feel valued and safe at work. This requires proper consultation of the employees and fair consideration of what they provide as important for them to be highly productive. The employees also need to feel protected from any kind of unfair practices in the course of their work. They need to be educated on the methods of seeking for fairness in all activities.

Having options at work might lead to having motivated employees hence high productivity. Employees should have choices in some element of their work so that they feel valued. An organization may for example allow people to work from home on some of the days if they choose to as long as they deliver on their work. They may also be allowed flexible working hours depending on what works better for them. Even on matters that regards benefits at work, a company may have different packages so that each chooses what works best for their stage in life.

Mutual benefit principle requires that employees as individuals and also through their representatives work with management and devise the mutual benefits which relate to their work for example job security, flexibility or performance. If the employee initiatives are to be successful, then the human resource practices need to be progressive and effective (Guest & Peccei, 2001).  An organization needs to focus on the shared interests and goals of the two parties considering they could other different interests. The policies and practices need to promote the mutual benefit of both employer and employees.

Equity at the work place may lead to reduce turnover, increase employee commitment and increase employees’ ideas that enhance productivity and quality. Traditionally the focus was on efficiency and this needs to be balanced with equity or fair treatment and a chance to have meaningful contribution in decision making (Budd, 2004). Organizations need to have policies that ensure that there are fair practices and that employees are treated fairly. This is especially important when handling grievances where employees need to feel their issues are fairly considered. This may lead to increased commitment and productivity.


The equal treatment principle at work implies that nobody enjoys fewer opportunities or rights that another person. Employees should not just feel that they are treated equally but there should be policies and actions that do not discriminate people based on ethnic, gender or any other circumstances (Rees, 2006). If an organization has any existing inequalities that have discriminated against minority groups, appropriate actions need to be taken to correct this. This may include training of minority groups so that they may be accommodated in the roles at work.

Redress at work may refer to any third party interventions that may involve either financial or non financial compensation for employees who feel they were disadvantaged Work place bullying or unfairness makes employees likely to experience stress or other physical and psychological problems and other economic consequences like sick leaves, transfers, and layoffs and are often targeted for employment termination (Meglich-Sespico, & Farley, 2007). Organizations need to have methods of redress so that they do not suffer the consequences of employees being absent from work, high turnover, low morale and even filing for legal redress which might lead to financial losses in compensation. Appropriate procedures for redress need to be put in place and made known to employees before negative consequences.


In conclusion, the principles from Waitangi treaty have been incorporated in the work environment for better work relationships and enhanced productivity. This paper has discussed some of the principles and ways in which they can be applied in the work place. The work place is about partnership and these principles can be used to guide how this partnership can be enhanced by fair treatment and consultation of employees in decision making for mutual benefit. The employees also need to feel protected in their work and given options and be trusted to deliver in their roles. In case of breach of the employment contract, there needs a proper mechanism for seeking redress and restoring the partnership.


Belgrave, M. (2005). Historical Frictions: M?ori Claims and Reinvented Histories, Auckland.

Budd, J. (2004). Employment with a Human Face: Balancing Efficiency, Equity, and Voice. ILR Press.

Burns, P. (1989). Fatal Success: A History of the New Zealand Company. Heinemann Reed. p. 153

Guest, D. and Peccei, R. (2001).  Partnership at Work: Mutuality and the Balance of Advantage. British Journal of Industrial Relations 39:2, 0007-1080 pp. 207-236.

Hayward, J. (2012). Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi – ng? m?t?pono o te tiriti - What are the treaty principles?, Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Accessed October 5, 2017 from:

Langfred, C. (2004). Too Much of a Good Thing? Negative Effects of High Trust and Individual Autonomy in Self-Managing Teams. Academy of Management Journal: vol. 47 no. 3, p385-399.

Meglich-Sespico, P. & Farley,R. (2007). Relief and Redress for Targets of Workplace Bullying. Springer

New Zealand Government. (2016). The Waitangi Tribunal and Treaty principles. Accessed October 5, 2017 from:

Rees, T. (2006). Mainstreaming Equality in the European Union. Education, Training and Labor Market Policies. London: Routledge.

Temm, P. (1990). The Waitangi Tribunal: The Conscience of the Nation, Auckland.

Te Puni K?kiri. (2002). He Tirohanga ? Kawa ki te Tiriti o Waitangi: A Guide to the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi as expressed by the Courts and the Waitangi Tribunal. Te Puni K?kiri: Wellington.

Uhl-Bien, M. & Maslyn, J. (2003). Reciprocity in Manager-Subordinate Relationships: Components, Configurations, and Outcomes. Management Department Faculty Publications. 13.

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