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Conflict Bill Lost But Tribunal Still Needs Reform

27 March 2008

Conflict Bill Lost But Tribunal Still Needs Reform

It is disappointing that my Treaty of Waitangi (Removal of Conflict of Interest) Amendment Bill was turned down by a parliamentary select committee but the Waitangi Tribunal would still benefit from process changes, says New Zealand First Maori Affairs spokesperson Pita Paraone.

“Obviously New Zealand First is frustrated that the select committee could not see our viewpoint that by allowing serving Judges of the High Court or Maori Land Court to serve as Chairperson of the Waitangi Tribunal could lead to fundamental flaws in the Treaty claims procedure,” said Mr Paraone.

“We disagree wholeheartedly with the committee’s opinion that there are not enough judges around with an understanding of Maori land history, tribal structures, Maori customs and traditions to avoid an overlap between the tribunal and the court.

“This is an insult to Maori intelligence and abilities. There is enough talent in Maoridom to avoid having just one person fill these two important roles. It’s time we recogonised that Maori are just as capable as anyone and that they should be treated as equal citizens.

“Our intent was always to make the tribunal process better and fairer,” said Mr Paraone.


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