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Waitangi Issues Best Settled By "Quiet Revolution"


Waitangi Issues Should Be Settled By "Quiet Revolution"

Treaty of Waitangi issues and controversies should be settled through a quiet revolution, says eminent constitutional and land law expert Professor Jock Brookfield.

"Maori claims and expectations, based on the Treaty of Waitangi or on the revived common law of aboriginal rights, remain outstanding. That, in the case of the Treaty, is despite a degree of effect given to its principles by Parliament and by courts and tribunals," he says.

In his new book, Waitangi & Indigenous Rights, Professor Brookfield makes a case for settlement of these claims that extends to basic constitutional change in New Zealand to redress wrongs that go back to the revolution begun in 1840.

What is needed, he maintains, is a "quiet revolution" by agreement between Maori and Pakeha to break with our past and develop a new written constitution protecting the Treaty, preferably as part of a New Zealand republic.

This would result from a renegotiation of the exercise of sovereignty within New Zealand. "The difficulty is that, as Professor JGA Pocock has recently commented, Maori and Pakeha 'have been renegotiating sovereignty even as it is being sold out from under them' in the process of economic globalization to which the country has submitted itself since the mid-1980s."

Some supporters of globalization policies are likely to oppose the kind of constitutional change suggested by Professor Brookfield. "They may prefer that the existing order be retained, in which such policies can be pursued free of any strong constitutional restraints protecting the Treaty of Waitangi."

Professor Brook field says the constitutional settlement he suggests would depend on the New Zealand nation-state's having the political will and power, despite any adverse economic pressures, to put the settlement into effect and to carry through the quiet revolution needed to secure it.

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