I urge all Nelson readers to go to the Kowhai Lounge, Block N, of NMIT in Hardy Street from 1.00–5.00pm today.
Two members of the Constitutional Advisory Panel, John Burrows and Peter Chin, will be holding court on the Constitutional Review.
If there’s any fairness in the process, Bruce Moon will be allowed say the following:
I am very worried about the quantity of misinformation, even straight lies, circulating about the Treaty of Waitangi, much of it emanating from official circles, some alas, from the Constitutional Advisory Panel itself and some of its individual members.
I am also very worried about the credentials of most of the members of this panel for making recommendations to Government on such an important question as the constitution of New Zealand.
Why I am worried about the Panel is answered in chapters 15 & 16 of this book [Twisting the Treaty] which I suggest that all of you should read.
As to misinformation about the subject matter, I confine myself to published statements of the Panel itself, a critique of which has been issued to you at the door today.
If you have not had time to read it yet, do so as soon as you can.
The Panel says: “The Treaty … enabled the British to establish a government in New Zealand and confirmed to Māori the right to continue to exercise rangatiratanga (chieftainship).”
Now what sort of half-truth or less is that??
By Article first of the Treaty, the Maori chiefs surrendered sovereignty completely and forever to the Queen – they did not just ‘enable the British to establish a government’.
There can be no honest doubt about that. Why isn’t the Panel simply honest enough to say so?
All the chiefs at Waitangi and Hokianga knew this, even those who were initially opposed to it. I could quote their actual words if there were time. All the chiefs at Kohimarama in 1860 knew this and I could quote their words too.
Now, by Article first, all Maoris became subject to British law, as did Australian aboriginals and Americans Indians to the colonial powers in those continents but the Treaty gave Maoris much more than they got, because by Article third, Maoris received all the rights and privileges of the people of Britain.
Imagine that for the ten thousand or so Maoris who were slaves of other Maoris! With a few strokes of a pen, from being liable to being killed and eaten at the whim of their Maori masters, they become British citizens in full!
Article second was really redundant because all it did was affirm the rights in law of subjects to own property, a right which had been non-existent under Maori ‘tikanga’. Refer to TtT, Chapter 3.
Moreover this was asserted for all the people of New Zealand, not just Maoris – “tangata katoa o Nu Tirani”.
The word use for ‘ownership’ was ‘rangatiratanga’ because only the class of rangatiras and above owned anything under Maori ‘tikanga’ – the common people owned virtually nothing.
So when the Panel says the Treaty “confirmed to Māori the right to continue to exercise rangatiratanga (chieftainship)” it is making a quite false and misleading statement.
Why does it do that?
So that is the Treaty, ladies and gentlemen, totally and in full.
It conferred absolutely no rights on Maoris or anybody else which were not the rights of all the people of New Zealand. All the claims we hear of Treaty-based rights of Maoris to our water, the electromagnetic spectrum, native plants and animals and anything else they can think of are totally spurious!
The Panel goes on to say “Generally legislation refers to principles of the Treaty rather than the Treaty itself”.
Well, yes it does, but this is something else which is quite spurious, disgraceful doings of our politicians.
The phrase “principles of the Treaty” was first inserted in the State-Owned Enterprises Act, 1986 by the misguided Geoffrey Palmer at the behest of the Maori Council. It is an entirely recent notion which, being undefined, can be twisted by anybody who wants to do so, to “prove” almost anything.
The “principles” are not and never were part of the Treaty.
But it doesn’t end there – it gets worse.
The Panel says “Treaty principles have developed because of the difference between the English and Māori texts, and the need to apply the Treaty to circumstances as they arise.
The Waitangi Tribunal and Courts have played key roles in defining the Treaty, using principles to express the mutual responsibilities of the Crown and Māori.”
It is hard to know where to start in explaining how wrong this statement is.
1. There is no “English Treaty” – there is only one Treaty as there always has been – a document in the Maori language.
The English text referred to here is a bogus document, concocted by Hobson’s pompous secretary, Freeman, after the event. One of his seven variant versions was signed at Waikato Heads (with a few signing at Manukau later) to cope with a very awkward situation which arose through no fault of anybody.
Again, to find out the details, refer to Chapter 2 of TtT.
2. The Treaty was a document signed at Waitangi by which New Zealand became a British colony and Maoris British subjects.
Since then, of course, we have evolved into a free and independent nation. The Treaty was a step in this process and that was all. It did its bit in 1840.
It is nonsense to talk of it as a “living document” as Mike Cullen of the Panel and others do.
If you and I sign a bit of paper by which I transfer my car or house to you, then that is that. It has consequences of course because that property is subsequently in your ownership, not mine but, in itself, it is a done deal.
So was the Treaty of Waitangi.
3. The Treaty does not need “defining” as the panel says. I have told you this afternoon all that is in the Treaty.
If, as the Panel says, the “Waitangi Tribunal and Courts have played key roles in defining the Treaty, using principles to express the mutual responsibilities of the Crown and Māori” then they have usurped a right, our rights, in doing so.
They have done just that in introducing the false idea of “partnership” which occurs nowhere in the Treaty. It arises out of a statement by that learned but foolish judge, Robin Cooke, who exceeded his judicial brief in doing so. [I knew him personally so have some grounds for saying this.]
“Partnership” has grown like a cancer upon our body politic and is a sign of a great sickness in it. Such things should make us all very worried. They worry me.
You, John and Peter, are highly qualified and experienced lawyers, well capable of looking through evidence and distinguishing the true from the false. It is imperative that you do so, immediately, and correct the many false pronouncements of your Panel.
If you can’t do this, then your only honourable course is to resign from it. Your path is clear.