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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Treaty foundation for constitution planning

The convenor of a Maori constitutional planning group says the Treaty of Waitangi will be the foundation for whatever it put up.

The group of lawyers and academics met in Auckland on the weekend to start developing a collective response on behalf of 50 iwi to the Government's review led by Pita Sharples and Bill English.

Moana Jackson says many Maori have little understanding of what a constitution is, but most have a good understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi.

“I said to the meeting on Saturday if you ask Maori to set their top ten priorities, the constitution wouldn’t be in the top 10 so we are aware of that and part of the reason for the working group is to nut out hw we can best do that, how we can stimulate discussion, because after all it is a treaty-based discussion,” Mr Jackson says.

The constitutional review includes the place of the treaty of Waitangi, as well as issues such as the term of parliament, the number of MPs and the future of the Maori seats.


Maori Party co-leader and Ngati Apa member Tariana Turia says her iwi's settlement with the Crown shows the value of using young negotiators instead of lawyers.

The iwi accepted has secured a $28 million package including a cash, cultural redress and housing assistance, forest land and the right to buy Ohakea air base and other Crown properties if they are made surplus.

Mrs Turia says while if falls well short of what Ngati Apa lost through aggressive Crown land purchasing in the 1800s, a younger of generation of leaders was determined to get on with building a future for the tribe.

“Quite often those of us who are older find it really difficult to give up that role but I do think and I can only judge it by our case that it was a really sensible thing to do. They had the energy for it and I think the really great thing was that we didn’t have lawyers acting between us and the Crown. We weren’t like other iwi who have paid out significant amounts of money in legal costs,” Mrs Turia says.


Former waterpolo international and tv weatherman Brendan Horan says he's standing for New Zealand First in Tauranga because he can't sit by and watch the country go down the economic gurgler.

The Ngati Maniapoto man now runs a gold buying business employing 16 people.

He says the party has the formula to save New Zealand's jobs and prosperity.

“You know the only reason I want to be there is I believe we can make a real difference to New Zealand and get us away from this economic disaster,” Mr Horan says.

He says Tauranga has gone backwards since the electorate threw out New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.


Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says New Zealand is browning up and the time is right to honour the Treaty of Waitangi.

The Government has finally set the scope for the constitutional review agreed to in the support agreement with the Maori Party.

Mrs Turia says it gives Maori a chance to push for a constitution underpinned by the Treaty.

“Generally our people are ready for this conversation and I think the rest of New Zealand is ready. We are always going to have people of the ilk of the Coastal Coalition and the ACT Party and others who still believe in white rule. The fact is we are browning up as a country, really important that we move forward together in trusting relationships with one another to act in the best interests of all of us who are part this land,” she says.

Mrs Turia says the Crown got the governance it wanted under the treaty, but Maori didn't get the rangatiratanga they were after.


Greenpeace's political advisor is encouraging Maori to turn out for a protest in Wellington today against Chile's crack-down on indigenous protest on Rapanui-Easter Island.

Mike Smith from Ngapuhi has taken on the role after several years of trying to raise awareness in Maori communities of climate change.

He says environmental and indigenous struggles are closely linked, which is why there's a march this morning from the Wellington Railway Station to the Chilean Embassy in Bolton St.

“Their military and police force are shooting unarmed civilians in Rapanui at the moment and of course those are our cousins. We can’t just stand by and let them be attacked militarily like they are. They’re not an armed insurrection and they’re being shot up,” Mr Smith says.

He's had an interest in environmental politics since joining the Values Party in the 1970s ... even before he got into treaty activism.


A Christchurch biologist says the discovery of matai and totara logs in an estuary near McCormack's Bay harks back to pre-European settlement of the Canterbury plains.

Bryan Molloy, a former department of agriculture scientist, says it's hard to determine the age of the logs because the plains are like a huge club sandwich with layer upon layer of forest sediment and river gravel.

But he says they may have come from the period when Captain Cook sailed past and observed from a distance the activity on the land.

"He talks about smokes and smooks in his journal, of the large number of fires he saw, so burning was not unusual, it’s a practice that was relatively common place,” Dr Molloy says.

All that remains of the forests that once cloaked the area is Riccarton Bush or Putaringamotu.


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