May 12, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Constitutional Review report now complete, but what does it mean for Maori? +report

5 min read

Screenshot 2013-12-05 17.47.29

The Constitutional Advisory Panel has just released their report on New Zealand’s constitution. If you already knew that we actually have a constitution then consider yourself an exception to the rule.

For those of you who didn’t know, you’d be forgiven considering we are only one of three countries in the world without a written constitution (the others being the UK and Israel).

So what was it all about? Key questions raised were does NZ even need a written constitution (we think it does, just not yet). What place should the Bill of Rights have (we think a significant place, to what extent, we’re still not certain). From our perspective having this “conversation”, was about growing up as a country, about reflecting on who we are as a nation as well as nations within nations.

Yes it was always going to be political but we found the Constitution Conversation to be a bloody good excuse to discuss key issues of governance and authority, indigenous and human rights as well as the notion of Parliamentary sovereignty (which from our perspective is definitely NOT the way to keep government accountable to its people).

It also made us pause and think about what is important to not just our whanau but to those of us living in Aotearoa, what values do we hold most dear, how to recognise our rights as indigenous people, how to ensure the Tiriti continues to be afforded respect within legislation, how we want our country governed, what checks and balances should be in place to ensure those who are given the responsibility to govern us, do so justly? ALL food for thought!

We loved the make up of the Panel and felt that those Maori on it reflected an array of key perspectives that exist within Te Ao Maori. Dr Leonie Pihama, Hinurewa Poutu, Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Dr Ranginui Walker and Sir Tipene O’Regan all could easily represent on any Jedi Council in the Universe, so we felt like we were in good hands.

So they along with Professor John Burrows, Peter Chin, Deborah Coddington, Sir Michael Cullen, John Luxton & Bernice Mene were given the task of fronting up and looking for feedback on a Written Constitution, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Maori Representation, the NZ Bill of Rights, Electoral Matters as well as other issues which emerged.

We waited with interest…

Here are their recommendations:

The role of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the Treaty of Waitangi

  • continues to affirm the importance of the Treaty as a foundational document
  • ensures a Treaty education strategy is developed that includes the current role and status of the Treaty and the Treaty settlement process so people can inform themselves about the rights and obligations under the Treaty
  • supports the continued development of the role and status of the Treaty under the current arrangements as has occurred over the past decades
  • sets up a process to develop a range of options for the future role of Treaty, including options within existing constitutional arrangements and arrangements in which the Treaty is the foundation
  • invites and supports the people of Aotearoa New Zealand to continue the conversation about the place of the Treaty in our constitution.

Ok so what does that all mean… basically that we need to keep talking (remember, these are still early days), that the role of the Treaty as a founding doc is clear (but we knew that!) We like the idea of a Treaty education strategy, something that was in place BEFORE the current government disestablished it, be nice to see more work around it and our civic responsibilities.

Maori representation in Parliament and in local government, the Maori Electoral Option and Maori electoral participation

  • notes the Panels advice that the current arrangements for the representation of Maori in Parliament should remain while the conversation continues
  • investigates how Maori representation in Parliament might be improved
  • investigates how local government processes and decision-making can better reflect the interests and views of tangata whenua and whether the processes can be made more consistent and effective
  • when conducting the investigation into representation in both Parliament and local government has regard to a range of options including Maori political structures, and local and international models.

So no change there, Maori representation in Parliament should stay as it is and damn right (only Maori should be deciding if they don’t want to be represented this way, not Tauiwi, not the Crown). We definitely like the idea of looking into a range of Maori political structures. Remembering that the research is clear, successful economic development within Maori communities comes from authentic and responsive indigenous governance systems. Successful economic development means we can begin funding our own projects and programmes (which leads to better self-determination and autonomy).

Size and number of electorates

  • notes the discrepancy in geographic size affects the representation of people in larger electorates, particularly M?ori and rural electorates

Nice when government reports acknowledge the significant challenges that Maori face in terms of electorate size, next step is working out how we get some movement and support.

Other issues

We did have one surprise, the Panel went on to invite the Government to explore the role of He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni, the Declaration of Independence in any further consideration of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements. Ka pai!! We went to several hui and this was mentioned consistently. So nice to see it acknowledged formally.

What happens next? Access to public submissions starts from 14 December, it’ll be interesting to see the nature and scope of views and perspectives. Then it’s in the govenment’s hands (so don’t hold your breathe). BUT if you make this about raising your own awareness and the awareness of your whanau, around what are some pretty complex issues then it’s been a damn good start.

This needs to be about our voice, our views and how we engage with government, without knowing the internal workings of the rule of law we simply can’t critique the system in order to re-imagine and reshape it.

[quote cite=”Mahatma Gandhi”]Be the change you want to see in the world.[/quote]


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