Constitutional Review – Nothing to Fear


(By Hon Tariana Turia, MP for Te Tai Hauauru)

As we gather around the country to celebrate the 173rd year since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi the Constitutional Advisory Panel will be getting ready to seek the views of all New Zealanders on the future of what a constitution for New Zealand could look like – and whether the Treaty of Waitangi should be incorporated into a written constitution.

Currently there is no single document to our constitution – these rules that govern our country are written down in a number of different pieces of legislation and other documents.

The government appointed advisory panel is tasked with seeking the public views on several important issues including our electoral system – such as the size of Parliament and 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 so called 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 Treaty-based constitution would ‘enshrine Maori privilege’ and turn ‘non-Maori 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 % of all New Zealanders surveyed believe that the Treaty is the founding document of our nation. Further the report stated that 51 % of all New Zealander 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 and experience.
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 pre-determined outcome which is to ensure that the treaty is not enshrined in our constitution.

The Treaty is primarily the foundation of our nationhood – it represents inclusiveness, working together for the good of all peoples –and 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– to recognise different worlds – different cultural backgrounds – and different histories.

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.

Rather than position the Treaty as the enemy, opponents of the review should embrace the review which is intended to seek a broad range of views. 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.

Latest Tweets

  • DigitalMaoriRIP Genesis Potini ur legacy lives on nga mihinui ki to whanau ThankU 4ur dedication 2our tamariki @TheDarkHorse_nz about 4 hours ago
  • DigitalMaori@TheDarkHorse_nz Aroha nui ki too mahi. A beautiful story well told. So real. So raw. Our tears flowed. Cut close. No one moved at the end. about 4 hours ago
  • DigitalMaoriRT @TheDarkHorse_nz: @DigitalMaori love your work whanau #braveryiscontagious about 5 hours ago
  • DigitalMaori CEO & filmaker, director & artist Tim Warrol @TheDarkHorse_nz screening #BraveryIsContagious about 5 hours ago
  • DigitalMaoriJason Scott Lee talks 2 Te Papa Takaro GM & Pat Mohi @ special screening of @TheDarkHorse_nz #BraveryIsContagious about 5 hours ago
  • DigitalMaori@ceejayjoe it was incredible! everything they say and more #bringtissues #BraveryIsContagious about 5 hours ago
  • DigitalMaoriRT @patsalwhk: @DigitalMaori @callumvalentine @teawhiahua very close to home for a lot of Whanau who relate to issues showcased in the movi… about 5 hours ago
  • DigitalMaori@callumvalentine @patsalwhk @teawhiahua indeed, Potaua said at times he had to look away #tooreal #fordblock #sadtimes #braveryiscontagious about 5 hours ago
  • DigitalMaori@willuxflavell incredible right... wow the Rotorua audience was blown away about 5 hours ago
  • DigitalMaoriRT @willuxflavell: Looking forward to seeing a special screening of the 'Dark Horse' in Auckland tonight. I've heard some good reviews abou… about 5 hours ago
  • DigitalMaoriRT @CinemaAotearoa: Finally getting started on the NZ films at #nziff today, with TE AWA TUPUA, THE DARK HORSE and EVERYTHING WE LOVED. Rev… about 5 hours ago
  • DigitalMaori@seawall we just watched it, profound, beautiful, raw @TheDarkHorse_nz was incredible about 5 hours ago
  • DigitalMaori@myriambirch he's currently hanging in Aotearoa NZ about 5 hours ago
  • DigitalMaoriRT @Jackalblog: Actor Wayne Hapi is a force of nature says Barney McDonald via @DigitalMaori about 5 hours ago
  • DigitalMaoriRT @patsalwhk: Thank you @DigitalMaori it was awesome, my Whanau were thrilled. Recommend every1 THE DARK HORSE @teawhiahua x… about 5 hours ago
  • DigitalMaoriRT @callumvalentine: @patsalwhk @DigitalMaori @teawhiahua Wasn’t it fantastic! They captured the silence of oppression better than any fil… about 5 hours ago
  • DigitalMaoriCliff Curtis sharing his <3 of our community,those helping Whanau in need, those leading by example @TheDarkHorse_nz about 8 hours ago
  • DigitalMaoriCliff Curtis thanking Whanau 4 their love and appreciation, a mihi 2 his wife & those who have made the film possible #BraveryIsContagious about 8 hours ago
  • DigitalMaoritotal excitement building at #rotorua screening of @TheDarkHorse_nz #BraveryIsContagious about 8 hours ago
  • DigitalMaoriTe Arawa Whanau Ora and at the special WOMscreening with Cliff Curtis #BraveryIsContagious about 8 hours ago