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No Sir To No Sir

The Prime Minister is likely to buy a fight, in court if necessary, if Government attempts to change the New Zealand custom of knight's and dame's in the royal honours list. John Howard reports.

The secretary of the human rights group The Magna Carta Society, Maree Howard, has vowed a fight to retain the titles of knight and dame as a New Zealand custom since the founding of the country.

She says the law was enacted by Parliament in 1988 which guaranteed New Zealanders their free customs and that law can only be changed by Parliament.

"Ms Clark may be able to make law but she is not above the law. We claim the titles are customary rights of all New Zealanders. They are part of our citizenship," Mrs Howard said.

"I also dislike Ms Clark's arrogance in bringing her personal views into the public policy arena especially when the people have not been consulted or a referenda on the issue has not been mentioned." she said.

"The Magna Carta is the law of this land as is the Bill of Rights 1688 from which Parliament claims its powers. Do we see Ms Clark and her coalition colleagues wanting to abolish their ancient Parliamentary customs and privileges?"

"We don't see Ms Clark saying those ancient laws which protect her privilege don't have a role in modern society," Mrs Howard added.

"New Zealand law in part grows from legislation dating back to the thirteenth century especially in Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, the Act of Settlement and the Habeus Corpus Acts."

"These laws are a critical feature of our constitutional principles and systems and they form part of our living and practical law providing legal rules for our governance and the relationship between individuals and the state."

"Magna Carta, for instance, establishes the great legal principle that no one is to be condemned without due process of law."

Mrs Howard said, " The Prime Minister has shown a woeful ignorance of the true meaning and intent of knights and dames and why they were established centuries ago."

"That modern politicians have controlled the system and rewarded their mates with titles is not the fault of the original meaning for them," she said.

"If Ms Clark wants a fight over this she's going to get it," Mrs Howard said.

ends

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