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Constitutional Advisory Panel Named

Hon Bill English
Deputy Prime Minister
Hon Dr Pita Sharples
Minister of Māori Affairs

4 August 2011

Constitutional Advisory Panel named

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English and Māori Affairs Minister Dr Pita Sharples today announced the 12 appointees to the Constitutional Advisory Panel.

The Government confirmed last December that it would conduct a wide-ranging review of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements – including the size of Parliament, the length of the electoral term, Māori representation, the role of the Treaty of Waitangi and whether New Zealand needs a written constitution.

It was the start of a considered process that would take place over three years.

The Constitutional Advisory Panel is an independent group that will lead public discussion on constitutional issues that are under review and will then report to the Ministers.

The Panel will be co-chaired by Emeritus Professor John Burrows and Sir Tipene O’Regan, of Ngāi Tahu. The other members are:

• Peter Chin
• Deborah Coddington
• Hon Dr Michael Cullen
• Hon John Luxton
• Bernice Mene
• Dr Leonie Pihama
• Hinurewa Poutu
• Professor Linda Smith
• Peter Tennent
• Emeritus Professor Ranginui Walker

The Panel will begin work shortly on a plan to inform public debate on New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements.

“The panel has a broad range of skills, including constitutional expertise and experience with community engagement,” Mr English says. “It will lead a forum for New Zealanders to develop and share ideas on constitutional issues, which we expect to be in place in 2012.”

“An important part of the review process will be consultation with Māori, particularly on the place of the Treaty of Waitangi in our constitution,” Dr Sharples says. “The members of this group are well placed to seek out and understand the perspectives of Māori on these important issues.”

The Panel will report to the Ministers in September 2013, identifying areas of broad public consensus and where further work is recommended.

Biographical information:

Emeritus Professor John Burrows QC (Co-chair): Professor Burrows is currently a Law Commissioner. He has extensive legal expertise and has written a leading text on statute law in New Zealand. He has led or jointly led Law Commission reviews of the Presentation of New Zealand Statute Law, Privacy, the Official Information Act 1982, Tribunals in New Zealand, and Private Schools and the Law.

Sir Tipene O’Regan (Co-chair) (Ngāi Tahu): Sir Tipene has extensive academic, governance, Treaty negotiations and Māori leadership experience. From a background in tertiary education he became Ngāi Tahu’s chief Treaty claim negotiator. In more recent years he has led debate on developing iwi economic structures and modernising iwi governance models. He is currently the Upoko (traditional head) of one of the 18 constituent regional rūnanga of Ngāi Tahu. Over the past 40 years he has served as a director or trustee of a wide range of commercial and non-profit enterprises in the public, private and Māori sectors.

Deborah Coddington: Ms Coddington is an experienced journalist and author. Ms Coddington was a Member of Parliament from 2002 until 2005.

Peter Chin: Mr Chin is currently a consultant with Webb Farry Lawyers He has expertise in community engagement and representation (including as a former Mayor of Dunedin), and over 40 years’ legal experience. Mr Chin is a highly respected member of the Chinese community.

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: Dr Cullen is currently the Chairman of NZ Post and Principal Treaty Claims Negotiator for Tūwharetoa iwi. Dr Cullen has experience of machinery of government and Treaty of Waitangi/Crown-Māori relations. Dr Cullen was a long-serving member of Parliament, including as Deputy Prime Minister, Attorney-General, Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Minister of Finance and Leader of the House.

Hon John Luxton: Mr Luxton is currently an agribusiness entrepreneur, company director and consultant. Mr Luxton has expertise in government, governance, Crown-Māori relations and community connections. He is a former Minister and electorate MP. Mr Luxton has experience in co-management (as co-chair of the Waikato River Authority) and representing farming and other interests alongside Māori interests.

Bernice Mene: Ms Mene is currently a TV presenter on education and netball programmes. She has a strong public profile, project management experience and the ability to connect with the community. Ms Mene has represented New Zealand in netball and is a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. She is also a qualified teacher and has represented New Zealand at OECD education forums.

Dr Leonie Pihama (Te Ātiawa, Ngā Māhanga a Tairi, Ngāti Māhanga): Dr Pihama is a senior Māori researcher in Māori and Indigenous education with a focus on Kaupapa Māori. She has lectured in policy analysis, Māori women’s issues, and representation of indigenous people, and was the Director of the International Research Institute for Māori and Indigenous Education at the University of Auckland Dr Pihama is a staunch advocate of Kaupapa Māori, and has also been involved in film and media production, and served on the Māori Television Board during its establishment phase.

Hinurewa Poutu (Ngāti Rangi, Te Āti Haunui a Pāpārangi, Ngāti Maniapoto): Ms Poutu is a doctoral student at Massey University and a teacher at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Mana Tamariki. She is a graduate of kura kaupapa Māori, with an academic and work record in studying, researching and teaching te reo Māori. Ms Poutu also has journalism experience and has worked as a Māori language media consultant.

Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith (Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Porou): Professor Smith is currently Pro Vice-Chancellor (Māori) and a Professor of Education and Māori Development and the University of Waikato. Professor Smith is an internationally renowned author, and authority on Maori and Indigenous research and education. She has worked as a Treaty negotiator for Ngāti Porou, and was Deputy Chair of Te Wānanga o Awanuiārangi. Professor Smith is also a member of the Marsden Fund Council and the Health Research Council.

Peter Tennent: Mr Tennent is a former Mayor of New Plymouth. He trained as an accountant and spent much of his life as a hotelier and in public life. As Mayor of New Plymouth, he emphasised community involvement and encouraged public engagement. Mr Tennent was nominated for World Mayor in 2010, and judged to be in the top 10 world community leaders.

Emeritus Professor Dr Ranginui Walker (Whakatohea): Dr Walker is a member of the Waitangi Tribunal, and well known Maori author and academic. His groundbreaking book Ka whawhai tonu matou, struggle without end has become a reference text for the history of the modern Maori renaissance. He has organised many Māori leadership conferences on urbanisation, gangs, Māori land, Māori fisheries, Māori educational development and Māori representation in Parliament, and is widely published on Māori anthropology, education and development.

Frequently asked questions
What constitutional topics will the Constitutional Advisory Panel consider?
Electoral matters:
• The size of Parliament.
• The length of terms of Parliament and whether or not the term should be fixed.
• The size and number of electorates, including the method for calculating size.
• Electoral integrity legislation.
Crown-Māori relationship matters:
• Māori representation including the Māori Electoral Option, Māori electoral participation and Māori seats in Parliament and local government.
• The role of the Treaty of Waitangi within New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements.
Other constitutional matters:
• Whether New Zealand should have a written constitution.
• Bill of Rights issues.

How were Constitutional Advisory Panel members selected?
Constitutional Advisory Panel members were selected based on their expertise and specialist skills in areas such as constitutional matters and community relations, and their ability to relate to a wide range of New Zealanders.

When will the public have their say?
The Constitutional Advisory Panel will establish a forum to develop and share ideas on the constitutional topics. It will seek the views of New Zealanders on these topics in 2012 and 2013.
Is the Constitutional Advisory Panel independent of the Government?
Yes, the Constitutional Advisory Panel is an independent group. It will be supported by a Ministry of Justice-led secretariat and will provide regular updates to the responsible Ministers (the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Māori Affairs) and to the Cross-party Reference Group of Members of Parliament.

What will be the outcome of the Constitutional Advisory Panel’s work?
The Constitutional Advisory Panel will deliver a final report to the responsible Ministers (the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Māori Affairs) by the end of September 2013, identifying areas of broad consensus where further work is recommended. Its work should be seen as part of a long conversation about New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements. The responsible Ministers will report to Cabinet by the end of 2013, and the Government will have six months to respond. The Government has acknowledged that constitutional change should not be undertaken lightly and will require either broad cross-party agreement or the majority support of voters at a referendum.

Where can I find more information?
More information on the Consideration of Constitutional Issues, including the Terms of Reference, can be found at: www.beehivegovt.nz and www.justice.govt.nz


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