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Treaty grows another leg - English

Treaty grows another leg - English

National Party Leader Bill English is launching a stinging attack on Government policies and what he describes as a 'phantom Treaty clause' that's finding its way into common law.

"The Treaty has had three articles - there is no fourth article, yet the Government is now giving official recognition to it," Mr English says.

"The Waitangi Tribunal recently announced it's to hear a claim based on Article Four of the Treaty.

"The historical basis for Article Four comes from discussions between Hobson and Bishop Pompallier on February 6th 1840 about religious freedom in New Zealand. Hobson assured him there would be freedom of religion.

"But what has happened is that a guarantee of religious freedom for everyone has been turned into a Trojan Horse for just Maori indigenous beliefs.

"And it is being taken seriously - by the Waitangi Tribunal," says Mr English.

"A Tribunal member, Keith Sorrenson, said a few weeks ago the Article Four claim was important because it was about the relationship between Church and State.

"In a speech from 1996 Tribunal Chair Eddie Durie said verbal promises are as much part of the Treaty as documented promises.

"It seems a lot hinges on this Article Four.

"If Eddie Durie gets his way, this phantom article will propel us further down the road of constitutional change by stealth," according to Mr English.

"We must draw a line in the sand and stop the constitutional experiments.

"If this claim is allowed to continue, it will gather momentum," he says.

"I challenge Helen Clark to step forward, bring the claim to an end and direct civil servants not to include references to so-called Article Four in documents.

"The Government must tell the Waitangi Tribunal to proceed no further. It must reject the claim right now," Mr English says.

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