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Historian supports removal of Treaty principles

30 September 2004

Historian supports removal of Treaty principles

Winston Peters’ proposed bill to remove references to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi from the country’s legislation has won qualified support from Treaty historian Dr. Paul Moon.

Moon, who is a Senior Lecturer in Maori Studies at the Auckland University of Technology, says that the time has come for the place of the Treaty principles to be reviewed:

‘The Treaty principles have been devised by a handful of civil servants, and by-and-large, are based on very poor history’, says Moon. ‘Most Treaty principles tend to reflect the political or ideological preferences of their authors, and bear very little relation to the text of the Treaty itself’.

Moon, who specialises in the history of the formation of the Treaty, says he has been concerned for several years by the way in which the original meaning of the Treaty has been manipulated through the use of these principles.

‘I am convinced’, says Moon, ‘that the current Treaty principles, and the way that they are applied, would seem completely foreign to the authors of the Treaty, and those who devised the policy which led to its creation’.

As for the New Zealand First bill proposing the changes, Moon says that it will need close scrutiny, but that it could be a move in the right direction if the motives behind it are sincere.


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