Do we have a constitution?
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Do we have a constitution?

October 11, 2019


Our constitution evolves with political developments, it is a political constitution and it has very few firm anchors. How in constitutional terms do we make it work so that iwi and hapu can make iwi and hapu decisions. The crown can make crown decisions and then we find that common space of the marae on which we can make joint decisions. Constitutional documents are always indeterminate, they have to leave room for, for societies to grow, they are all made with aspirations of their day and they have to expand to fit the different society that evolves. Pakeha New Zealand really need to get up to speed with these constitutional issues because these are some things that Māori communities have been talking about for generations. I think it would be better if we had a written codified constitution that included the Treaty. It’s unthinkable that if we had a proper constitution in New Zealand that it would not include the Treaty. You know that’s a daunting challenge, but I don’t think it’s an insurmountable one. I think that people are uncertain about it. It raises a level of uncertainty, about the force of the Treaty. One of the things that I would think would be really useful in a discussion about the constitution is to think about the kind of values that we would like to see underpinning our constitution and providing a framework for all our law and I think that, I suspect that that is a conversation that that people would be interested in having. Our courts have had, well now, a long time of building case law, building interpretations of what the Treaty means in different circumstances and I think that they have shown that the traditional interpretation of the Treaty is not particularly radical. We set a timeline of 2040, not just because that will be 200 years since the signing of the Treaty but it gives us 25 years, it gives us a generation to muster up the wits and the wisdom and maybe even the courage to take that next step in the Treaty journey.

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