The Hauraki Gulf, located on the north-east coast of the North Island of New Zealand, has attracted human settlement for close to 800 years. Eastern Polynesians were the first settlers, and over subsequent generations Māori cultural practices developed in close association with the sea. The signing of the Treaty of Waitangi by representatives of northern Māori tribes and the British Crown in 1840, was the basis on which Britain asserted sovereignty over the North Island of New Zealand, with the more sparsely settled South Island claimed by virtue of discovery. The Treaty guaranteed (amongst other things) that Māori would have full, exclusive and undisturbed possession of their lands, estates, forests, fisheries and taonga (precious things).