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Treaty education must be a priority, say Greens

Treaty education must be a priority, say Greens

A survey indicating a third of all New Zealanders know little or nothing about the Treaty of Waitangi is an indictment on the Government's failure to initiate an education programme about our founding document, Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today.

"It is little wonder that many people turn off whenever the word 'Treaty' is mentioned, given the overwhelmingly negative connotations it is saddled with from ill-informed political debate and sensationalist media coverage," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"It does not have to be that way. Te Tiriti - the Maori language version signed by both Hobson and the majority of chiefs - is the foundation of our country and the partnership between Maori and Pakeha.

"It is neither a 'dead' historical document that can simply be ignored, nor a weapon that can only be wielded to the disadvantage of one race or another.

"There can be no sustainable or meaningful advance in our society without recognition and understanding of that document. And that means a thorough debate throughout society, backed by a comprehensive education campaign," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"Last year the Greens approached the Government for funding for Treaty education for New Zealanders and for forums to discuss how partnership in decision-making can be achieved. The Government was not ready to agree to that then, but we hope this latest survey will convince the Government to listen more sympathetically when we again lobby for an education process."

Ms Fitzsimons has returned to Te Tii Marae this year to pay her respects and to report on what the Green Party has achieved over the past year.

"The Party has come a long way. We have ratified our Treaty policy, adopted a preamble to our Charter principles that recognises Te Tiriti as the founding document of Aotearoa NZ and Maori as tangata whenua, and we have now been joined in Parliament by our first Maori MP, Metiria Turei.

"The task facing us now is to foster more informed debate throughout the country."

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