Dr Muriel Newman
Phone 09 4343 836
or 021 800 111
PO Box 984, Whangarei
the Waitangi Tribunal released a report proposing that more
money should be given to the kohanga reo movement. In spite of
over $1,000,000,000 of taxpayers’ money being spent on the
movement over the past 20 years, the Tribunal alleged there
had been wide-ranging breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi and
called on the government to apologise for not doing more. They
have also recommended that the legal costs incurred by the
Kohanga Reo National Trust in taking this claim against the
government, should be paid for by taxpayers.
This new report by the Waitangi Tribunal follows hard on
the heels of their report on the Maori Council’s claim for
fresh water. Even though the Tribunal has no jurisdiction to
hear new historic claims lodged after 1st September
2008, they took the case and unsurprisingly found that Maori
had some proprietary ownership rights to a public good
resource that is owned by no-one!
The fact is that the Waitangi Tribunal plays a central
role in the Treaty of Waitangi grievance industry. This
insatiable gravy train, with its increasing demands for
separatism - power, money and public resources - is being
driven by the iwi elite, their lawyers and consultants.
With the support of National, the Maori Party’s aim is
to cement separatism in place, by replacing our present
constitutional arrangements with a new written constitution
based on the Treaty of Waitangi as supreme law. Such a move
would replace parliamentary sovereignty with a legal document
to limit what our elected Parliament can and can’t do -
transferring supreme power into the hands of unelected judges,
who cannot be dismissed.
In other words, love them or hate them, under our present
constitutional arrangements, if we don’t like what our
supreme lawmakers – our democratically elected Members of
Parliament – are doing, we can vote them out! That’s
because under New Zealand’s present constitutional
arrangements, our Parliament is supreme. It can make laws
concerning anything - although any law that it does make,
cannot bind a future parliament. That’s why it is a
well-established convention, that major constitutional change
requires a mandate of voters through a binding public
referendum process. Any major constitutional change, that does
not gain the approval of citizens through a binding
referendum, should be deemed illegitimate.
With that in mind, the process for implementing
constitutional changes that result from the Maori Party’s
review, has set alarm bells ringing. During the launch in
December 2010, the Deputy Prime Minister Bill English
explained, “Of course, we will keep in mind that enduring
constitutional changes generally require a broad base of
support. Significant change will not be undertaken lightly
and will require either broad cross-party
agreement or the majority support of voters at a
These weasel words mean that they are not planning to hold
a referendum on any constitutional change recommendations at
all. If they were, they would be shouting it from the
rooftops, because making major policy decisions through a
public referendum process is a popular thing for any
government to do.
Instead, they are planning to garner the support of vested
interest parliamentary parties, and impose constitutional
change onto the country through a vote in parliament.
The reason is practical. Any government that tried to
impose a Treaty based constitution onto the country through a
public referendum would face defeat. New Zealanders do not
want to live in a separatist nation. We want to live in a
country where our future is determined, not by the colour of
our skin or the accident of our birth, but by the contribution
we make as individuals.
As a result, we need to take a stand against any plan to
replace our constitution without the express approval of the
public through a referendum process - anything less is
completely and utterly unacceptable!
These concerns and more led the New Zealand Centre for
Political Research to launch the Independent Constitutional
Review - an alternative people’s review to counter the Maori
Party’s $4 million taxpayer-funded “consideration of
constitutional issues”. Their sham review is being conducted
by a stacked Advisory Panel, which will put forward a
pre-determined recommendation to the government next
September, for a new written Treaty-based constitution.
The majority of New Zealanders – Maori and non-Maori
alike – are overwhelmingly opposed to a race-based future.
That’s why we are fighting back.
The Independent Constitutional Review website at ConstitutionalReview.org
will be the focal point for our campaign.
It contains a wide range of background information - on
the constitution, the plans by the iwi elite to gain
constitutional status, the government’s deceitful review
process, and what it all means for our future. The website
outlines numerous ways that supporters can get involved and
help, including how to donate to the campaign and how to
volunteer and assist.
We launched the Declaration
of Equality, to create a movement for change. Our vision
is a country where all New Zealanders are equal in the eyes of
the law, with special treatment based on need, not race. There
would be no race-based seats and no race-based laws. The
Waitangi Tribunal, which has outlived its useful life, would
be abolished. And the Treaty of Waitangi - which is part of
our past, not our present, nor our future – would be
returned to the archives of history.
As part of our “people’s review” - and to counter the
Maori Party’s biased Advisory Panel - we would like to
announce that we have now established an Independent
Constitutional Review Panel (ICRP). Made up of a group of New
Zealanders of diverse political backgrounds, we share a common
concern that an out-of-control Treaty industry has become a
serious threat to New Zealand’s prosperity and integrity as
a viable nation.
Our panel is led by David Round, a constitutional law and
Treaty expert from Canterbury University. He is joined by
Associate Professor Elizabeth Rata from Auckland University,
Professor Martin Devlin from Massey University, Professor
James Allan from Queensland University, journalist and author
Mike Butler, and myself - Dr Muriel Newman former MP and
founder of the NZCPR think tank. Other members will be added
to our Panel over the next few months.
The ICRP Chairman David Round has now issued our first
press release. Responding to the Waitangi Tribunal’s kohanga
reo report, he has called for the Tribunal to be abolished:
“The Waitangi Tribunal’s report on kohanga reo makes it
clear why the Tribunal should be abolished. The Tribunal is
now clearly nothing more than a grandly-named Maori lobby
group. Its recommendations are pure politics. Governments have
poured over a billion dollars into kohanga reo over the last
two decades, and that was only a part of wider taxpayer
support for the Maori language. We might reasonably expect a
word of thanks for this generosity. But instead the Tribunal
…demands, not just more funding, but an apology for not
doing enough. To demand an apology for not being more generous
is not just ungracious and ungrateful, but downright arrogant.
The tribunal is behaving like a greedy bully.” The full
release can be seen HERE.
More details on the ICRP membership can be seen HERE,
and their articles, produced for our constitutional review
campaign, can be viewed HERE.
This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator is ICRP member James
Allan, the Garrick Professor of Law at the University of
Queensland. I met Professor Allan a decade or so ago when I
was a Member of Parliament and he was teaching constitutional
law at Otago University. In light of the Maori Party’s plan
to replace our present constitutional arrangements with a new
written constitution enshrining the Treaty of Waitangi, I
invited him to share his views:
“I think it
would be a disaster for New Zealand to move to a written
constitution of the sort almost certain to be offered.
And I would run a mile from incorporating or
entrenching the Treaty into any such instrument, not least
because overwhelmingly no one knows what it means when applied
to any specific issue. So
all you will be buying is the views of the top judges, instead
of your own, the voters. That’s
not a trade I would ever make.”
In his article
Professor Allan explains that introducing a written
constitution would radically weaken our democracy: “That’s
the point of a written constitution.
It trumps parliament. It
overrides parliamentary sovereignty.
It enervates democracy. Now that may be a good thing if
you reckon you can get a more favourable deal out of a
committee of ex-lawyer judges in Wellington than you can out
of the democratic process. But
for democrats like me it is an appalling prospect.”
He describes how constitutions are vulnerable to being
‘filled up’ with new meanings by judges, and how they are
increasingly regarded as a ‘living tree’, in that their
words stay the same, but their meaning can change over time: “The
exact same thing can be said of the Maori Party’s push to
have a written constitution that incorporates the Treaty of
Waitangi. The latter has
little content in its few short paragraphs.
Talk of its ‘principles’ inherently involves a lot
of ‘stuffing it full of latter day content that no one at
the time imagined or intended’.
And if, as is overwhelmingly likely, the top New
Zealand judges adopt the same sort of ‘living tree’
interpretive approach that we see today in Canada, Europe, and
amongst most or many of the top judges in the US and
Australia, then there is absolutely no predicting in advance
what may be imposed on Kiwis some time down the road.
Remember, the words can stay exactly the same but their
imputed meaning can change and alter as the top judges see
fit.” You can read the full article HERE.
If you haven’t supported our
campaign as yet - by signing the Declaration of Equality, donating, volunteering to help,
informing your contacts about what is going on - then please
make a start. Four years ago when we saw the Maori Party’s
radical coalition proposal for iwi control of the foreshore
and seabed - through the repeal of public ownership - we
thought the National Party would come to its senses and never
let it happen. We were wrong. The law was passed under the
radar of public opinion, with most New Zealanders kept in the
The same strategy
– keeping it all under the radar of public opinion – is
being used for the Maori Party’s plan for constitutional
change. But the ramifications are so serious that they
threaten to divide our country forever. Please do what you can
to spread the word. It should be the Declaration of Equality
that the government adopts, not a Treaty-based constitution.
I will leave the
final word on the Maori Party’s plan, to Professor Allan:
“So in my opinion, expressed from over here in Australia,
this is a terrible idea. It
needs to be knocked back. And
I have my fingers crossed that you can all achieve that
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constitution would be a disaster for New Zealand? Click here for poll >>>
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