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Better late than never says Turia

Better late than never says Turia

Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party

Thursday 1 November 2007

Tariana Turia is today delighted that the Labour Party is this weekend set to debate a remit at their annual conference to enshrine the Treaty of Waitangi into the constitution of New Zealand.

"This is a key proposal that I talked about with Labour during my time with them" said Mrs Turia. "Although my idea was given some acknowledgement in the government setting up a three year Treaty education programme, it did not ever achieve the progress I thought the nation needs to ensure the Treaty is firmly established in our nation's constitution".

"When the constitutional inquiry chaired by Peter Dunne was established in November 2004, I was extremely committed to the concept of a nationwide inquiry" said Mrs Turia (see releases of 8 and 17 November 2004 below).

"It was, therefore, extremely disappointing that when the Constitutional Arrangements Committee was established, I was not invited to participate - despite having made my clear interest known" said Mrs Turia (see Hansard of 14 December 2004 below).

"I was particularly concerned that the Committee consider the question 'how might our constitutional arrangements give due recognition to the Treaty of Waitangi?' and not 'what recognition should the constitution give to the Treaty' as it ended up doing. If there is to be meaningful change, it is important that our constitution emanates from the Treaty and does not place it in a box at the margins".

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The membership of the Constitutional Arrangements Committee that met during late 2004 and early 2005 comprised of Peter Dunne, David Parker, Lianne Dalziel, Mita Ririnui, Russell Fairbrother, Nandor Tanczos, and Stephen Franks.

"I am speaking out about this now, to correct the record before the Labour Party faithfuls attend their conference" said Mrs Turia. "Remit 45 of their conference remits incorrectly asserts I 'refused' to sit on that committee. Instead, if the truth be known, I was very disappointed to be refused the opportunity to even get to the table - such were the processes of power and control in those days".

"Still - that was then, this is now, and I am pleased that the Maori Party's track record in consistently promoting Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the basis for needing and discussing constitutional change in our nation is finally being given some consideration".

"It is, however, outrageous, that Labour would think to lie about my involvement or my interest in constitutional matters when the official record - including Hansard - says quite another thing" said Mrs Turia.

"What possible motivation could there be for trying to mislead their members into thinking I would not support the need for an inquiry into such a critical issue as constitutional change?" asked Mrs Turia.


Maori Party Welcomes Discussion on Nationhood 8 November 2004 Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party

The Maori Party today welcomed the news to establish a 'conversation with the people' about the status and role of the Treaty. The Maori Party has not been consulted about the Government's discussions on constitutional reform, but has been responding to inquiries from the media.

"The Party's position with respect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi is unequivocal - it is a cornerstone of the constitution of Aotearoa New Zealand. As such, it and its parent document, the Declaration of Independence 1835, have pivotal parts to play in the maturing of our nation" stated Mrs Turia, co-leader of the Maori Party.

The Maori Party had introduced the concept of constitutional reform at speeches presented at Taranaki and Auckland on 28 October 2004, at events commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence on 28 October 1835.

In those speeches, the Party foreshadowed a position on constitutional reform, centred on the importance of not only the Treaty of Waitangi, but also the Declaration of Independence. It also focused on strengthening the Bill of Rights.

There are a number of options for moving forward.

* One is the option proposed by the Government; * One possibility is to convene a group of New Zealanders (not politicians) to provide thoughtful leadership on these matters as we look forward; * A further option is to establish a Royal Commission.

'The call from tangata whenua and other like minded New Zealanders is for a comprehensive discussion led by the citizens of New Zealand' she said today.

'Our people are wary of a government-led inquiry'.

'The Government's chance for providing some leadership on this matter existed in the Foreshore and Seabed Process. That process has revealed that the select committee is rendered irrelevant'.

'What our people have called for, as with the Foreshore and Seabed, is a reasoned and robust discussion about defined issues of constitutional importance'.

'Central to this discussion is the need to increase New Zealanders exposure to and acquisition of, sound knowledge about the Declaration of Independence and Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the history of our nation' said Mrs Turia today.

'Nationhood is meaningless if we have not matured in our attitudes to and decisions about the past, present and future role these documents play in our lives' stated Mrs Turia today.

Maori Party to show leadership in the Constitutional Inquiry

17 November 2004

The Maori Party today announced that it would participate in a nationwide constitutional inquiry announced by the Prime Minister in the weekend.

'Our people would expect nothing less' said Mrs Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party.

'New Zealanders recall the Prime Minister advising the Queen in her visit here in February 2002, that the Treaty was our founding document, and later in August of that year, in her own Speech from the Throne stating that "The basis of constitutional government in this country is to be found in its founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi".

'Those assurances give the Maori Party confidence that there are at least three parties in the Parliament, who are committed to entrenching the Treaty of Waitangi in a constitution for Aotearoa' said Mrs Turia today.

Tangata whenua have been asking for a review of the constitutional arrangements of this land for decades.

The three legendary Hirangi hui called by the Paramount Chief of Ngati Tuwharetoa, Sir Hepi te Heuheu, nearly ten years ago in 1995 and 1996, revealed the intensity of interest among Maori in this subject.

'Those hui raised the issues of constitutional change on the basis of the Declaration of Independence 1835 and the Treaty of Waitangi 1840', stated Mrs Turia today.

'Tangata whenua have been rigorously exploring these ideas and are willing to take up a pro-active, and co-leadership role with the Crown, in exploring this issue of such critical importance to our nation' said Mrs Turia.

'We would encourage NZ First and National to respond positively to the opportunity for all of our citizens to talk together about our future, as a nation' said Mrs Turia.

14 December 2004: Hansard Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Leader of the House) :

I move, That a committee be established to undertake a review of New Zealand's existing constitutional arrangements The committee to consist of seven members to be nominated by parties to the Speaker as follows: New Zealand Labour 4, Green Party 1, ACT New Zealand 1, and United Future 1. In speaking to the motion, I say first of all that I regret the fact that by leave, even though, obviously, the Government parties are not going to oppose it, New Zealand First and National removed themselves from the select committee, and indeed therefore from the ability to participate in the committee should they change their mind at any point in the future.


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