Â©Tamara Voninski. Maori children build a sand castle with shells from a beach near Waitangi in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand. The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 between the Maori and the British who agreed to live together peacefully. In 2005, the New Zealand government passed the controversial Seabed and Foreshore legislation to prevent Maori from claiming exclusive ownership of New Zealand2019s resource rich coastline and seabed. The Maori traditionally see themselves as caretakers of the land and coastline. The Maori population is approximately 530,000 of four million New Zealanders.