Talk on con­sti­tu­tion and Treaty a good thing

South Waikato News - - NEWS/OPINION -

the num­ber and size of elec­torates – Maori rep­re­sen­ta­tion in­clud­ing the Maori elec­toral op­tion, Maori elec­toral par­tic­i­pa­tion and the Maori seats in Par­lia­ment but also on con­sti­tu­tional mat­ters in­clud­ing the Bill of Rights, a writ­ten con­sti­tu­tion and how the Treaty might be in­cor­po­rated into such a con­sti­tu­tion. Mean­while New Zealand First leader and MP Win­ston Peters as well as the so­called In­de­pen­dent Con­sti­tu­tional Re­view Group headed by former Act MP, Dr Muriel New­man, have set out to un­der­mine the work of the panel – and most con­cern­ing – they are de­ter­mined to en­sure the Treaty of Wai­tangi will have no place in any fu­ture con­sti­tu­tion of this coun­try.

The state­ments made by Dr New­man, who has launched a cam­paign against the re­view claim­ing that a Treatybased con­sti­tu­tion would ‘‘en­shrine Maori priv­i­lege’’ and turn ‘‘nonMaori New Zealan­ders into sec­ond-class ci­ti­zens’’ are out­ra­geous.

Rather than at­tempt to scare the pub­lic into think­ing they will be­come sec­ond-class ci­ti­zens in their own coun­try, Dr New­man and oth­ers should con­sider what really are facts and may be sur­prised at just how many New Zealan­ders al­ready think that the Treaty is the found­ing doc­u­ment of this coun­try.

The Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion report Hu­man Rights and the Treaty of Wai­tangi 2012 states that 60 per cent of all New Zealan­ders sur­veyed be­lieve that the Treaty is the found­ing doc­u­ment of our na­tion. Fur­ther the report stated that 51 per cent of all New Zealan­ders be­lieve the Treaty be­longs to us all. And a third of all those sur­veyed also stated they have rea­son­able knowl­edge of the Treaty.

It’s also alarming to read ac­cu­sa­tions by op­po­nents that the panel is stacked de­spite the makeup of the group con­sist­ing of seven non Maori and five Maori. They are of a high cal­i­bre from a range of back­grounds.

They in­clude co-chair John Bur­rows QC, a law com­mis­sioner; Emer­i­tus Pro­fes­sor Rang­inui Walker; former Act MP and jour­nal­ist Deb­o­rah Cod­ding­ton and Hin­urewa Poutu, a PhD stu­dent and kura kau­papa Maori grad­u­ate and teacher.

Rather than ac­cuse this process of hav­ing pre-de­ter­mined out­comes – per­haps the so called ‘‘in­de­pen­dent’’ group should ask them­selves why they ap­pear to be the ones that ac­tu­ally have a pre­de­ter­mined out­come which is to en­sure that the Treaty is not en­shrined in our con­sti­tu­tion.

The Treaty rep­re­sents in­clu­sive­ness, work­ing to­gether for the good of all peo­ples – and is about en­sur­ing a place here in Aotearoa for us all, tan­gata whenua and tan­gata tir­iti (those who are here by virtue of Te Tir­iti o Wai­tangi).

The Treaty was de­signed to bring us to­gether.

There is noth­ing to fear from the Treaty of Wai­tangi. It ap­pears in our leg­is­la­tion al­ready, in­clud­ing the State Owned En­ter­prises Act and Te Ture Whenua Maori Act.

Soon the panel will meet face to face with com­mu­ni­ties around the coun­try as well as call for writ­ten sub­mis­sions. I hope the op­po­nents can see that a wider dis­cus­sion on the con­sti­tu­tion and the Treaty is a good thing.

Tar­i­ana Turia

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