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National retreating on Treaty relationships

MEDIA STATEMENT
Hon Dr Pita Sharples and Te Ururoa Flavell
6 November 2012

National retreating on Treaty relationships

The Māori Party says the National Party’s actions contradict its words on recognising the Treaty of Waitangi.

“The Prime Minister says National acknowledges the status of tangata whenua and recognises the Treaty as the founding document of this nation, but his caucus deems it ‘not necessary’ to allow any MP to pledge to uphold the Treaty in their work on behalf of all New Zealanders,” says Co-leader Dr Pita Sharples.

“The Treaty established an enduring relationship between tangata whenua and the Crown on behalf of all New Zealanders, to work together in good faith and a spirit of partnership to build the new nation. The Treaty was never about division, it is about establishing a foundation for unity in diversity – hence Governor Hobson’s statement “He iwi kotahi tātou”.

“National has stated that they will oppose legislation to make it an option for incoming MPs to swear an oath to uphold the Treaty of Waitangi. Te Ururoa’s ‘Oaths and Declarations (Upholding the Treaty of Waitangi) Amendment Bill is a small but symbolic step towards recognising the Treaty today,” said Dr Sharples.

“My Bill does not make it compulsory to uphold the Treaty, but National’s opposition will make it impossible,” said Te Ururoa Flavell. “Why are they afraid of the Treaty?”

“The National Party entered into a relationship with the Māori Party to show how people with different kaupapa can work together constructively, as the Treaty foresaw. For example, this government has been making good progress settling historical claims by iwi brought under the Treaty of Waitangi Act,” said Mr Flavell.

“Their opposition to my Private Member’s Bill is a disturbing move, which we might have expected from former leader Don Brash, or former ACT MP Muriel Newman and her Centre for Political Claptrap which wants to ‘abolish the Treaty’. National risks looking like shifting their position in response to pressure from a small minority who promote discontent over the Treaty and Māori issues.

“Fortunately, many more New Zealanders can see the value the Treaty can add to building unity in a diverse nation, helping us to acknowledge our shared past and move forward together, as seen in our role in government,” he said.

ENDS

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