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Treaty Principles Could Be Gone in a Decade

6 January 2004

Treaty Principles Could Be Gone in a Decade Says Academic

The principles of the Treaty of Waitangi – prevalent throughout the public sector and in some current legislation – could start to disappear within ten years claims Auckland University of Technology Treaty historian, Paul Moon.

Dr. Moon cites changes in public opinion, and the tenuous way some Treaty principles are applied as forming the basis of these changes. ‘Over the past few years’, he says, ‘there has been growing grass-roots resistance to the implementation of Treaty principles in the workplace, and this opposition is becoming more strident and more vocal’. One of the problems, says Dr. Moon, is an apparent lack of relevance: ‘People are asking: ‘how do these relate to us and our work?’ Often, there isn’t a straightforward answer’.

The other reason Dr. Moon gives for the eventual disappearance of the Treaty principles is that in some cases, they are at odds with the actual text of the Treaty: ‘This creates a tension’, he says, ‘ and ultimately, there can only be one winner: either the Treaty itself, or the watered-down version of it that the principles sometimes represent. I am convinced’, he continues, ‘that the current Treaty principles, and the way that they are applied, would seem completely foreign to the authors of the Treaty’.

Dr. Moon, who specialises in the history of the formation of the Treaty, says he has been concerned for several years by the way in which the original meaning of the Treaty has been misinterpreted through the use of these principles.


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