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We all have a stake in the Treaty of Waitangi

Hon Jim Anderton

Minister of Agriculture, Minister for Biosecurity
Minister of Fisheries, Minister of Forestry
Associate Minister of Health
Associate Minister for Tertiary Education

Progressive Leader

5 February 2008 Media statement

We all have a stake in the Treaty of Waitangi

Jim Anderton says Waitangi Day won't be celebrated as a genuine national day tomorrow because New Zealanders do not have a shared sense of ownership in the Treaty of Waitangi.

"Many New Zealanders see the Treaty as a document for Maori. It isn't. It is about much more than addressing past wrongs. Treaty rights move in both directions. The Treaty contains important promises to Maori that have on many, many occasions been breached. And it contains some important promises to the rest of New Zealand, including the absolute and unreserved right to govern.

“It is implicit in the idea of governing that government is of and for all New Zealanders. Those who argue for a greater claim than other New Zealanders to these lands are advocating a breach of the Treaty.

“Many liberal New Zealanders seem to apologise for extreme behaviour on the grounds that the Crown has also breached the Treaty in the past. But you can’t have it both ways. You can’t both say “honour the Treaty” and “rip it up”.

“So I say to all those who try to take for themselves the rights protected for all New Zealanders: Honour the Treaty.

“The Treaty was not signed out of some idea of idealism and harmony, but because an agreement about the way ahead was better than the alternative. Those on either side who step away from the partnership principle underlying that agreement are no different from each other.

“There are Maori radicals who wish the Treaty had never been signed and who want Pakeha to submit to a Maori constitution. There are also Pakeha rednecks who wish it had never been signed, and they think that if we pretend it wasn’t then we won’t have to honour any guarantees in the Treaty. Both extremes are wrong.

“The Treaty was signed, for good reason, and it continues to have meaning today.
The real challenge for New Zealanders − Maori or Pakeha − is to create a New Zealand where no one is left behind; where everyone has an opportunity; and where everyone is included in our national successes. The real challenge is to create a New Zealand for us all.

"If we had an inclusive New Zealand with a place for everyone, we would celebrate 6 February as a genuine national day," Jim Anderton said.


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