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Maori Party Thrilled at Labour's Treaty Commitment

Maori Party Thrilled at Labour's Treaty Commitment

Hon Tariana Turia, Maori Party Co-leader

21 August 2008

Tariana Turia says the Maori Party is absolutely thrilled at reports that a Labour Minister is going to introduce a Bill to Parliament to entrench the Treaty of Waitangi in the constitution of New Zealand.

"On Radio Watea last night, we were told that Associate Treaty Negotiations Minister Hon Mita Ririnui, himself a Ratana Apotoro, is going to place a Bill into the ballot to entrench the Treaty. This has also been promised at various meetings around the country, called to persuade Ratana supporters to vote for Labour at the coming election," said Mrs Turia.

"It is very pleasing that, at long last, the Labour Party is publicly committing itself to honour the Kawenata, the solemn agreement reached between the Mangai T. W. Ratana and Michael Joseph Savage on April 22nd 1936 to fulfill the promise of the Treaty.

"My own grandfather, father and two aunts went with Ratana to London in 1924/25, seeking the Crown's commitment to honour the Treaty, but their journey was in vain," said Mrs Turia.

"Now, with Labour's support, there is a real chance to entrench the Treaty in the constitution - provided it is done BEFORE the election, while Labour still has the numbers.

"The Maori Party here and now pledges itself to support any move that would achieve constitutional recognition of the Treaty, and we offer our help in drafting such a Bill.

"We have a fair bit of experience drafting amendments to introduce Treaty clauses to legislation. We also know how difficult it is to get such proposals through the House when you are a minority, and the majority opposes you. Only two weeks ago, our proposal for a Treaty clause in the Policing Bill was opposed by all parties except the Green Party," she said.

"With a General Election approaching, there is no time to lose. Rest assured, as soon as Parliament resumes next week, we will be taking the idea up with Mita, Nanaia Mahuta, Louisa Wall and Errol Mason, who are all supporting this cause.

"We look forward to the Maori Party and Labour being able to co-operate on recognition of the Treaty, which is of such importance to tangata whenua," she said.

ENDS

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