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UF calls for Royal Commission on future of Treaty

Media Statement For immediate release Wednesday, 25 February, 2004

UF calls for Royal Commission on future of Treaty

United Future leader Peter Dunne today called for a Royal Commission to "set markers in the ground" on the future role and relevance of the Treaty of Waitangi.

"Dr Brash's Orewa speech has pointed to the problems we face in dealing with the Treaty of Waitangi and related issues, but not the solutions. It shows just how easy it is to be against things, but the real challenge is to state what you are actually for.

"It's now time to move beyond simply highlighting problems, and to start identifying the issues causing concern to New Zealanders, and the steps we might take to deal with them," Mr Dunne said in unveiling six themes to tackle "what could be seen as New Zealand's six degrees of separation on race issues".

"At the moment, we don't, as a nation, have clear markers about what the Treaty of Waitangi means, and as a direct result, the issues that surround it generate far more heat than light," he said.

The plan includes a call to remove all reserved places for Maori entry into the public health, education and welfare systems, and phase out Maori seats in Parliament.

He said the points identified by the United Future caucus reflect the issues that concern middle New Zealand, and form the "starting point for moving New Zealand forward".

The points are:

* A Royal Commission should be established to examine New Zealand's future constitutional status, including the future place of the Treaty of Waitangi.

* All outstanding Treaty of Waitangi claims should be resolved within five years.

* Ownership of the foreshore and seabed should be exercised by the Crown on behalf of all the people of New Zealand, without exclusivity.

* A timetable should be agreed for phasing out the Maori seats in Parliament.

* All reserved places or quotas promoting preferential Maori entry and access to the public health, education and welfare systems should be removed.

* A new national day should be established instead of Waitangi Day.

"Now is the time to focus on the issues middle New Zealand is concerned about, rather than continuing to throw rocks at each other across a mounting political divide.

"United Future has listened closely to the public clamour of recent weeks and has identified these as the major issues of concern.

"Now, we want to work with all New Zealanders to resolve them," he said.

Ends.

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