Proposed Treaty Principles Bill “will empower weirdos”

Treaty Principles Bill

The Coalition Government’s pledge to introduce a Treaty Principles Bill is insupportable, opponents say.

Describing the proposed Bill as “radical”, former National Party minister Chris Finlayson and political commentator Matthew Hooten say the bills should not have the National-led Government’s support.

Former  National Party attorney general and minister for Treaty negotiations under Sir John Key’s leadership, Finlayson is firmly opposed to a referendum about the Treaty.

The ACT Party’s Treaty referendum would “derail years of good faith bargaining and empower weirdos” he says.

“It will bring out of the woodwork the sort of people who used to write to me and say ‘why don’t you get cancer?’, ‘how dare you give property rights to people above their station’ or, as sometimes even happens now, walking along Lambton Quay, someone will call me a ‘Māori-loving c***’.”

Respected political commentator Matthew Hooton, who has ties to both ACT and National, agrees with Finlayson’s concerns.

“The principles of the Treaty were put into legislation to the disadvantage of Māori because the risk was that if the Māori text was taken as authoritative, then the Crown would not be sovereign.

“You do not want to put the words ‘tino rangatiratanga’ into statute” he says.

Catholic religious orders are concerned

Some members of the Catholic Church’s Congregational Leaders Conference of Aotearoa New Zealand [CLCANZ] are also concerned.

The group, representing Catholic religious orders, is troubled by the current political discourse regarding the Coalition Government’s policies about Māori language and the Treaty.

CLCANZ has issued a public statement saying:

“Te Tiriti o Waitangi was the foundational document of Aotearoa, with Bishop Pompallier present at the gathering.

“It had the flavour of a covenant, a sacred agreement.

“It was between the British Colonial Office then, and the Government today, and Māori.

“Any ongoing conversations today should involve members from both parties.

The religious leaders are alarmed by the rhetoric surrounding curbing Māori language and attempting to rewrite the principles of the Treaty and say it is not time to remain silent.

“This current coalition government appears to be continuing a litany of broken promises to Māori, the indigenous peoples of our country.

“We stand in protest at the attitude of the present coalition government in disestablishing the bicultural relationship between Māori and the Crown, and destroying many efforts made over significant years.

“We commit ourselves to learning more about our responsibilities living in a bicultural milieu,” say the group of leaders.

The proposed Bill

The five principles the proposed Bill will consider include:

  • Kāwanatanga – the principle that the Government has the right to govern and make laws
  • Rangatiratanga – the right of iwi to control the resources they own
  • Equality – all New Zealanders are equal under the law
  • Co-operation – there must be co-operation between the Government and iwi on big issues of common concern
  • Redress – that the Government acts responsibly to provide a process to resolve Treaty grievances

ACT is committed to replacing and rewriting those principles.


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