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Cabinet Contempt for Treaty of Waitangi

Cabinet Contempt for Treaty of Waitangi

Wednesday 19 Feb 2003 Stephen Franks Press Releases -- Treaty of Waitangi & Maori Affairs

ACT Treaty Spokesman Stephen Franks today called for Attorney General Margaret Wilson to clean her own stables of ignorance about the Treaty of Waitangi, before presuming to lecture the nation on its need to study and understand it.

Mr Franks was spurred by today's astonishing denial of Article Two of the Treaty by Rural Affairs Minister Jim Sutton in Parliament.

"Mr Sutton was asked by ACT Rural Affairs Spokesman Gerry Eckhoff whether he would ensure that recommendations from the Prime Minister's `right to roam' committee would not be allowed `to breach the exclusive use of private property guaranteed under Article Two of the Treaty'.

"With intended withering scorn, Mr Sutton told Parliament `The Member has read something in the Treaty of Waitangi that I have missed after reading it many, many times'".

"Nothing could better underscore the Government's ignorance of the actual Treaty. Its policy of claiming authority from entirely imaginary so-called principles of the Treaty - instead of reading the Treaty itself - now lets them renounce it. The principles apparently now float, free and transcendental, needing no historical legitimacy.

"Article Two of the Treaty is entirely about guaranteeing and respecting property rights. `[The Queen] confirms and guarantees [to Maori chiefs and individuals] the full exclusive and undisturbed possession of their lands and estates ...'".

"With dripping sarcasm the Attorney General has been offering seminars and instruction to MPs who ask her to explain what she thinks the Treaty means, despite countless requests and questions in Parliament. Neither she, nor the Prime Minister or any other Minister, has ever explained the connection between the Treaty and the spurious principles. On these principles they purport to erect race-based privilege in this country.

Meanwhile, they contrive to trash the actual words of the Treaty, which confer real and valuable rights to every Maori and thus, to every New Zealander, by virtue of Article Three, which extends the same rights to all New Zealanders.

"Mr Sutton should apologise to the House at the first opportunity. He must confirm that the Prime Minister's pet committee will be required to observe the Treaty's guarantee of exclusive possession of property.

"The Attorney General, as legal conscience of the Cabinet, should apologise for condescension and the Government's failure to uphold Treaty property rights," Mr Franks said.

For more information visit ACT online at or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at

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