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Hone Harawira - Saving The Treaty

Hone Harawira - Saving The Treaty

Readers will know that over the past couple of years, I have been highly critical of the Labour Maori MPs’ lack of support for the Treaty of Waitangi, and the fact that they’d actually voted against the Treaty of Waitangi twice in the last three years – once when they voted to take the Treaty out of all legislation, and again when they supported Labour taking the Treaty out of the school curriculum.

The Maori Party successfully led a fight to save the Treaty on both occasions, but Labour’s anti-Treaty stance left a sour taste in the mouths of Maori people all round the country.

Anyway, last weekend I got roasted on Marae by one of Labour’s Maori MPs about my criticism, so I decided to put the Treaty up again, to see if Labour’s position had changed.

Labour was proposing legislation to update all governance and operational aspects of the New Zealand Police, and I made the case that given the testy relationship between Maori and the Constabulary right from when Hone Heke chopped down the flagpole in 1844 through to the police terrorism raids in 2006, now was the ideal time and this was the ideal bill to include the Treaty.

I also noted comments from the Commissioner of Police’s Maori Focus Forum, that “the inclusion of a Treaty clause would have been a principled policy response - both to the Government's Treaty obligations and to its absolute need to do all that it can to improve the state of the relationship with tangata whenua”, adding that they considered “the absence of a Treaty clause to be a particular disappointment”.

So, given the importance of the Treaty and the relevance of the legislation, when the bill came back to the House for consideration, I proposed an amendment that “in interpreting and administering this Act, effect be given to the Treaty of Waitangi”.

I regretfully advise that when it came to the vote, although I was disappointed, I was not surprised to see Labour vote against it.

My thanks to the Greens for supporting us on this issue, but our people will be gutted to hear that Labour’s Maori MPs have chosen to vote down the Treaty, again.


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