Why the Waitangi Tribunal's report on the status and effect of the Treaty changes nothing - and potentially everything.

The Waitangi Tribunal's just released report He Whakaputanga me te Tiriti: The Declaration and the Treaty, representing its findings on Stage 1 of the Te Paparahi o Te Raki Inquiry, is a bit of a door stopper. Its runs to some 534 pages, with another 40 odd of appendices.

But it's likely that the full substance of the Tribunal's research and analysis will be read by (at most) a few hundred history and law aficionados, plus those poor saps at the Ministry of Justice who have to do so as part of their work. For the vast majority of us, however, the real money passage comes at pages 525-526:

Our essential conclusion, therefore, is that the rangatira did not cede their sovereignty in February 1840; that is, they did not cede their authority to make and enforce law over their people and within their territories. Rather, they agreed to share power and authority with the Governor. They and Hobson were to be equal, although of course they had different roles and different spheres of influence. The detail of how this relationship would work in practice, especially where the Māori and European populations intermingled, remained to be negotiated over time on a case-by-case basis. But the rangatira did not surrender to the British the sole right to make and enforce law over Māori. It was up to the British, as the party drafting and explaining the treaty, to make absolutely clear that this was their intention. Hobson’s silence on this crucial matter means that the Crown’s own self-imposed condition of obtaining full and free Māori consent was not met.

Wow - that sounds pretty major! The Treaty wasn't actually the mechanism by which Māori accepted that the British Crown could take over running the motu known as Aotearoa/New Zealand!! Māori assumed that they would retain the capacity to make and enforce their own laws for themselves!!! What then flows out of that historical finding?

Well, at one level it doesn't mean anything at all. All the Tribunal is telling us is what a lot of historians have been saying for years - Māori didn't see the Treaty as intended to grant the Crown permission to come in and exercise ultimate control over everything in the new colony. The Tribunal itself makes this point, noting that "A number of New Zealand’s leading scholars who have studied the treaty – Māori and Pākehā – have been expressing similar views for a generation." But the Tribunal's conclusion doesn't then mean that the Crown does not in fact possess "sovereignty" in and over New Zealand today  so Chris Finlayson is entirely correct to claim in response to the Tribunal's report that "There is no question that the Crown has sovereignty in New Zealand."

He's right because it's what all the institutions charged with exercising public power in our society assume to be the case (because they are, for the most part, colonial institutions that are founded and run on the basic assumption that the Crown (in the form of other colonial institutions) is in charge of things). So, for example, back in 1992, the High Court in a case called Berkett v Tauranga District Court was confronted with the argument that the Crimes Act 1961 did not apply on Tuhua/Mayor Island because Parliament does not possess the constitutional power to legislate over this bit of land. The High Court judge pretty much dismissed that claim root and branch: 

For the final and crucial step, namely the acquisition of sovereignty by the Crown at that time, one must again venture beyond the reassuring confines of constitutional and domestic law as a closed system. The origins of that sovereignty are discussed by Richardson and Somers JJ in New Zealand Maori Council v Attorney-General [1987] 1 NZLR 641 at 671 and 690. They refer to Hobson's proclamations of 1840 declaring the Crown's sovereignty over New Zealand, the approval of those proclamations by the Crown in London and the publication of the proclamations later that year in the London Gazette. The questionable nature of some of the assumptions purportedly justifying the proclamations at the time (whole of North Island ceded by the Treaty of Waitangi; South and Stewart Islands unoccupied by any Maori group capable of exercising sovereignty there; no presence capable of resisting acquisition by discovery) has not detracted from the general recognition afforded to the proclamations ever since. As Richardson J commented "It now seems widely accepted as a matter of colonial law and international law that those proclamations approved by the Crown and the gazetting of the acquisition of New Zealand by the Crown in the London Gazette on 2 October 1840 authoritatively established Crown sovereignty over New Zealand".

As far as courts are concerned - and remember, it is courts that have the constitutional job of saying what is and what isn't "law" in New Zealand - the Crown has sovereignty because it said it had sovereignty. It doesn't matter if the historical or factual basis for that claim is flawed, because it's since become the fact on the ground (i.e. it has achieved "general recognition"). In that respect, sovereignty is like Tinkerbell in Peter Pan - if everyone claps their hands to show they believe in it, then it exists.

However, it also doesn't really matter what the Court thinks about the basis for the Crown's sovereignty, because the question actually is none of the Court's damn business. Its job doesn't extend to asking if the lawmaking and law applying bits of New Zealand's government are allowed to exist in their present form:

But in fact it is neither necessary nor permissible for a Court to delve back into history to establish the pedigree of the New Zealand Parliament, or the territorial scope of its authority, for the purpose of assessing the validity of a current statute. Once Parliament passes or adopts a statute, the Courts must apply it. An assumed clash of sovereignties in the mid-nineteenth century cannot provide the basis for challenging a New Zealand Act of Parliament.

And finally, Justice Fisher sums up the relationship between the Treaty of Waitangi and the basis for New Zealand's contemporary laws in pretty blunt terms: 

It will be apparant by this point that in my view the Acts do not derive their current legal authority from the Treaty, that they are binding upon all persons within the territory of New Zealand, that the territory of New Zealand embraces Mayor Island/Tuhua and that the statutes are therefore binding upon the applicants. No-one should underestimate the importance of the Treaty of Waitangi but the acts or omissions of one's ancestors with respect to the Treaty can have no bearing upon one's liability under a New Zealand statute of general application

Now, I've quoted these lengthy extracts from a more-than 20 year old case for a reason. As far as courts are concerned (as well as the other institutions of public power), the Treaty is not actually needed as a basis for the day-to-day functioning of the current legal order. And so whenever Māori litigants come before a judge claiming that she or he has no authority over them because their ancestors did not sign the Treaty (as happens on a semi-frequent basis), that judge invariably gives the very same answer as was given by the judge in Berkett. Equally, whenever Māori individuals or groups seek to assert alternative forms of legal authority within Aotearoa/New Zealand - by issuing things like a "Māori birth certificate, Maori passport and ... 'Maoritanga' currency", for instance - the State responds with force to put an end to the practice. The Waitangi Tribunal's words will not change that factual application of public power one little jot … a Māori defendant who tries to rely on its Report to argue that an "Iwi issued" drivers licence entitles them to operate a motor vehicle will receive the same flat answer as was given in the past. It doesn't, nothing you say about the Treaty changes that, and if you try to drive with one of those bits of paper you will be taken off to jail by men who can beat you or worse if you try and resist them.

That is, at its very core, what "sovereignty" means. 

So if that is the case, is the Tribunal's Report simply a lot of typing and paper, signifying nothing? Well, not necessarily. Because there's a distinction to be drawn between sovereignty in fact and the legitimacy of that sovereignty. And the Tribunal's report matters quite a bit for that latter matter. Here's why.

All nations have a narrative about what they are and how they came to be. These stories we tell ourselves about who we are and the way we got to be that way have real importance. Consider, for example, the effort that the Government is putting into producing a series of histories to mark the 100th anniversary of World War One. It's not doing this simply because Chris Finlayson personally is a fan of military history (and I have no idea if he is or not). Rather, it sees the occasion as one that was (and is) important in forming our identity as "New Zealanders". 

(Note - I'm not suggesting that the "WW100 Commemorations" are an exercise in State-promoting propaganda or the like. Rather, I'm using them as a contemporary example of the pull that history has upon us and the fact that we are prepared to expend time, effort and money in trying to better understand and mark the events of our past. In short, it shows how much our history matters.)

For the most part, then, the story we tell ourself about how New Zealand first came into being as a nation State is a pretty positive one. Sure, things may have not been perfect thereafter - the promises in the Treaty may have been broken at times when the Government might have got a bit greedy for Māori land and the like. But as a nation we started out with the best of intentions, with Māori being treated respectfully as co-equals by the British wanting to come over to live here. And Māori in turn were quite happy to invite the British in and give them the running of the joint. That's what the Treaty was all about: He iwi tahi tatou, and all that.

So we can all feel pretty good about where we are and how we got to be here (at least, once we've tidied up the last of the Treaty settlements and thereby made good our failures to live up to the Treaty's original promises). This is especially true if we compare ourselves to (say) those nasty racist Ockers who just up and shot the Aboriginal people who were already in Australia. That sort of using brute force to take over the country just wasn't the way we did things here!

The problem then is that the Waitangi Tribunal's report makes that rosy narrative pretty hard to sustain. Because if the Treaty wasn't the way in which those Māori who signed it agreed that the British Crown could take charge of the country, then what was? And the alternatives look pretty bleak - essentially, you're left with the fact that over time the Crown proved to be the larger, stronger and more numerous party, which then was able to use that fact to impose its will over Māori groups who didn't want to have it happen.

Which, if you want to think about it, is pretty much what Russia is doing in the Ukraine. Or Israel is doing in the occupied territories of the West Bank. Or China might one day want to do to us, in a world where climate change starts to make our land and resources increasingly attractive.

I'm going to suggest that there's three possible responses that might then get made to the Tribunal's Report. 

(Actually, before we get to them, there is one other response that may be made. It might be argued, as Paul Moon apparently does, that the Tribunal got its conclusions quite wrong. I'm not going to get into that historiographic battle, except to say that the Tribunal's institutional position as a permanent commission of inquiry means that this is now pretty much the official or orthodox account of what happened. It is now, for all intents and purposes, "the Truth" about what occured with the Treaty.)

First, we might try to say that all this history stuff just doesn't matter in terms of how we order our current world. Why should whatever happened 174 years ago be allowed to have any bearing on how we live together as a country today? All I'll say in response to this question is that it's not really a tenable argument to make in terms of understanding our constitution; that is, the rules, practices and  that govern how power legitimately may be exercised in our society. For if we're going to say that things that happened in 1840 are too far in our past to speak to us today, then there's an awful lot of our law that we are going to have to junk - including such seminal documents as the Magna Carta (1297), the Petition of Right (1627) and the Bill of Rights (1688).   

So while I get that there's a somewhat understandable tendency to dismiss those bits of our past that don't fit comfortably into our present self-understandings as being "ancient history" that shouldn't be accorded any contemporary importance, I don't think you can pick and choose relevance based purely on whether it complicates things. In short, we need some sort of account of how today's New Zealand (including the institutions that govern society as a whole) came to be the way it is. A part of that account has to explain why it is that our governing institutions came to possess, and continue to possess, their lawmaking and application powers. And if that account doesn't rest on the Treaty, then what does it stand upon? 

Well then, a second response might be to accept that the Treaty did not function to transfer sovereignty to the Crown and that in fact this was achieved by the sorts of forceable imposition of authority that we today condemn other nations for undertaking. That is to say, the Crown is sovereign because it won the battle for power - partly by force of arms, partly through the imposition of its judicial authority, partly by taking advantage of the fact that the Māori population declined through disease and other factors. 

Two points about this response. The first is that it does not necessarily mean that the current New Zealand State is hopelessly compromised or lacks any moral legitimacy at all. There may be very good reasons why we might think that the society we have developed is a pretty good one to have - it produces outcomes that we can feel proud of today. However, and this is my second point, how good do we feel about telling ourselves this story about how our society came to be? How happy are we to be a slightly less terrible version of Australia; our forebears may not have hunted Māori for sport, but they still were not much better than bullies who took what was not theirs through being bigger, stronger and more numerous? Is that a national narrative we are prepared to live with?

The third response, then, is to accept that the Treaty did not function to transfer sovereignty to the Crown and so the way our society has developed has failed to keep to the original promises made in it. That is to say, the ongoing deprivation of Māori sovereignty is a breach of the fundamental bargain that was made between the parties.

If we do accept that picture, then it really poses a challenge to us. Because if we want the story we've come to tell ourselves about the Treaty and what it means for who we are to be true, then we can't just keep on keeping on as we've done. Nor can we resolve the breaches of the Treaty simply through payments of money, transfer of resources, and apologies. Rather, it calls for a more radical reworking of the sharing of power over at least some aspects of New Zealand between the Crown and Māori in order to make good the Treaty's original vision.

And that, it seems to me, is the real importance of the Waitangi Tribunal's Report and its conclusions. It provides us with a choice - you can either have your comfortable and ennobling history of the Treaty as the founding document of New Zealand, or you can have the current New Zealand State in which the Crown has the right to exercise ultimate sovereignty over all aspects of life within it. But you can't have both.

Comments (25)

by Nick Gibbs on November 14, 2014
Nick Gibbs

Your final paragraph reads very harshly. I don't think it such a dicotomy. You mention in your post the process of redress and treaty settlement which we are going through, something which in itself is "ennobling". Kiwis have reflected on the role of the treaty and found our response to be wanting but are trying to make progress towards justice. This I think should be reflected in your summary.

by Che Nua on November 14, 2014
Che Nua

Similarly the "Tuhoe terrorism" wrangle was essentially the Crown yet again undermining the right of tribes to maintain their own armed forces or military capacity

by Alan Johnstone on November 14, 2014
Alan Johnstone

"Sovereignty" has always ultimately derived from the ability to deploy violence to those who oppose it.

"Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun" as a wise man once said. 

by Katharine Moody on November 15, 2014
Katharine Moody

I've always hoped that someday we might achieve co-governance and an improved democracy at the same time by establishing a second, tangata whenua House of Parliament which functions much as the House of Lords in Britain. Coupled with the disestablishment of the Maori seats in the House of Representatives it would in my opinion be the most mature, honest and ethical response to putting history right.

by Siena Denton on November 15, 2014
Siena Denton

Paul Moon is full of crap as is many fake think they're know-it-all academics on Taha Wairua o nga hapu katoa kei konei ki roto nga waahi  tapu o Aotearoa.

Aotearoa known around the globe as New Zealand has secured a seat (with the aid of taxpayer greasing funds and maybe a wobbly one it remains to be seen), on the Security Council for the next two years.

Prime Minister John Key said,

“New Zealand’s success in gaining a place on the Security Council is a victory for the small states that make up over half the United Nations membership” 

“Our win proves small countries have a role to play at the UN and we are determined to represent the perspective of small states at the Security Council table"

“At the moment the Council faces a number of challenging issues. New Zealand is looking forward to serving on the Council and making a positive contribution throughout our two-year term” 

http://beehive.govt.nz/release/new-zealand-wins-security-council-seat

So New Zealand will what? Roost upon their seat giving their views/opinions on other nations govts human abuse issues like Palestine and yet here in Aotearoa the same government will carry on pretending they have full sovereignty to rule over Maori.

As for the Treaty Negotiations Minister Finlayson and if you read this, I read in the Dompost on GSCB oversight a nameless lawyer probably who said of the Attorney-General, "when it comes to the Rule of Law, Chris Finlayson is a "prissy fusspot".

Not such a "prissy fusspot" when it comes to that Te Tiriti o Waitangi but you sure as hell have turbo cyber booties on in attempting to square away all those Treaty claims.

1848 to 2008 Government forces born from and exacting colonial barbarism still exact their abuse and treachery against the true peoples of this whenua.

Your Westminister system is demonic just like its founders!

Now comment away, please be my guests both abuse and support most welcome!

You all have a nice weekend as well.

by Andrew Geddis on November 15, 2014
Andrew Geddis

@Nick,

Kiwis have reflected on the role of the treaty and found our response to be wanting but are trying to make progress towards justice. This I think should be reflected in your summary.

I agree with you! About the "trying to make progress towards justice" point, anyway. And, to give credit where credit is due, Chris Finlayson and National have done very, very well in this area. Having said that, the Tribunal's Report raises the question "where to next?" Because what it says is that if we want to be true to the Treaty as it was formed, then something more radical is needed than just saying sorry and paying over some money.

I'd note that these sorts of issues already are being thought about and progressed, in the form of things like the Waikato River Authority, the Whanganui River settlement, the Tūhoe settlement and the status of Te Urewera. Much of which flies under the radar at present ... but at some point it will be something we have to confront more openly.

@ Alan,

"Sovereignty" has always ultimately derived from the ability to deploy violence to those who oppose it.

Yes - there's an element of truth to that realpolitik analysis. As I said myself, a Māori individual/group who try to assert a continuing sovereignty too strongly in the contemporary context will quickly discover that one of the functions the Police and correctional services undertake is upholding State power. The ability to deploy violence is, in the final analysis, a trump card in disputes over who rules.

However, reducing the claim to "sovereignty" to the position that "I'm (or we're) bigger and stronger, so I (or we) rule" is a bit problematic. For one thing, it poses a constant temptation to competing groups within (or from outside of) society: if you think you are strong enough, then try and take over. Places where that approach to governance becomes the common norm do not tend to do well; take your pick of 1990s Balkans, the Congo for the last decade or more, or present Iraq/Syria. For another, it's an impulse that we've tried to bury as deep as possible in our governing ideologies, both domestic and international. So, for example, we base our entire system of government not on "the strongest rule", but rather on the basis that people consent to a system where we all get an equal say in who will rule. And in terms of our international position on things like the Ukraine, Palestine, etc, we're pretty insistent that being able to deploy violence isn't good enough to entitle you to rule.

Now, we may say that all that overlay is purely window dressing to hide what "really" is going on. But I don't think that this sort of account of ideology - it's just a smokescreen for "truer" motives - is tenable. Once we say things like consent and fairness and moral legitimacy matter, then they do come to matter. Of course, at some point they may give out and Mao's diktat may take over ... but there's an awful long way that we can travel until we get there.

@Siena

Now comment away, please be my guests both abuse and support most welcome!

Well, no. Robust debate and passion always welcome, but let's keep the "abuse" for sporting teams from Canterbury.

by william blake on November 15, 2014
william blake

The first is that it does not necessarily mean that the current New Zealand State is hopelessly compromised or lacks any moral legitimacy at all. There may be very good reasons why we might think that the society we have developed is a pretty good one to have - it produces outcomes that we can feel proud of today.

I can hear you bending over backwards in this part of your argument Andrew. I will refrain from scattering reference links to various government departments and I am confident that all New Zealanders know that Maori make up  hugely disproportionate numbers in poor physical and mental health,the criminal justice system, educational failure, poverty and early death.

pakeha that feel proud of these achievements, which are as much a part of TeTiriti as land confiscations, would have been the ones issuing the typhoid blankets to the American Indians.

by Lee Churchman on November 15, 2014
Lee Churchman

So, for example, we base our entire system of government not on "the strongest rule", but rather on the basis that people consent to a system where we all get an equal say in who will rule.

Given that the latter was not the case for either of the "parties" who signed the treaty, why should it figure at all in our constitution other than to paper over historical grievances?

by Andrew Geddis on November 16, 2014
Andrew Geddis

Given that the latter was not the case for either of the "parties" who signed the treaty, why should it figure at all in our constitution other than to paper over historical grievances?

Because it's the closest thing we've got to an acceptable (where "acceptable" is viewed in the light of how we think things ought to be done today) basis for our nation's existence?

Of course the parties to the Treaty weren't perfect examples of liberal democratic societies. In fact, if they were in place today, we'd probably view them much as we do Saudi Arabia. Some Maori still practiced slavery, after all. Likewise, the British still treated women as totally subordinate to their male "guardians" and executed people in public. Etc, etc. But there's lots of examples in our current constitutional tikanga of events undertaken at times we would now regard as unenlightened. Take, for example, the "glorious revolution" of 1688, which established parliamentary supremacy over the Crown. We don't look back on this event and say "well, Parliament actually consisted of a quite small section of society, with the large majority of people excluded from any say over it, so it shouldn't figure in our constitution at all." Rather, we treat it with reverence, to the extent that the Bill of Rights 1688 that emerged from it is still a fundamental part of our law.

by Lee Churchman on November 16, 2014
Lee Churchman

Rather, we treat it with reverence, to the extent that the Bill of Rights 1688 that emerged from it is still a fundamental part of our law.

I think this is backwards. We treat historical statutes according to present standards, rejecting those that don't fit and lionising those that do. If Hobson had managed to get a blatantly unjust settlement from the Maori, it the treaty would now be held in disfavour, even though qua a contract, it would be no different than the one we have (and the arguments for abiding by the agreement because it was freely agreed upon would be just as strong). And that just shows the essential worthlessness of the Treaty as a contract without some other supporting reasons to think it legitimate (such as the legitimacy of the contracting parties as sovereigns or it's according with contemporary standards of justice).

It's because contemporary standards are really doing all the work that worrying about the content of the historical agreement seems to me to be a waste of time. We would reject it if it were manifestly unjust, so so the only reason we should accept it is if it were just. It so happens that most of the indigenous rights covered by the Treaty can be justified by contemporary standards (Will Kymlicka has written a lot about this) and regular principles of rectificatory justice.

by Carlos on November 16, 2014
Carlos

1; Once again I'm surprised at the ease with which Russia is condemned for what is happening in Ukraine when ALL the evidence clearly points to the US as the guilty party.

2; Colonial officials were very aware of the political correctness required to placate various opposition groups in England at the time, and so tactics such as treaties were employed to give the appearance of fair play, or in the case of Australia, terra nullius so as to claim that as there is no-one really there it was fine to claim everything, and kill any who opposed this, whether by active resistance or just by existing.

In the US every single treaty was broken by the Govt of the day, with the same intent as the Australian colonists, to eradicate the inconvenient original inhabitants.

In NZ, given the lessons learned from the US and Australian experience, the treaty was clearly a ruse to allay the well founded fears of the Maori leaders, when the real intent was to claim/own the land in its entirety. A long drawn out resistance war, against a well organised and practised fighting culture would have been expensive and likely increased resistance back in England which would threaten the 'investments' of the chief colonisers.

3; The assertion that the laws of a colonised country are valid because the colonisers say they are is, in my opinion, a nonsense. Similarly, claims that the legal situation is valid because it has been in existence for a long period, is also, in my opinion, a nonsense.

Surely, unless a governing group has historical AND current permission/agreement from the people then they are illegitimate usurpers and should be peremptorily dismissed/ejected at the very least.

by william blake on November 16, 2014
william blake

I like the way the Treaty of Waitangi is reinvented over time as each generation builds on the last. I especially enjoy interpreting Hobson's silence as meaningful. Tabula rasa meets white noise.

by Nick Gibbs on November 16, 2014
Nick Gibbs

@Andrew,

I'd note that these sorts of issues already are being thought about and progressed, in the form of things like the Waikato River Authority, the Whanganui River settlement, the Tūhoe settlement and the status of Te Urewera. Much of which flies under the radar at present ... but at some point it will be something we have to confront more openly.

I would also add the Auckland Council's issueing of consenting rights by maori over private property to that list- (although this is drawing heavy fire). But the central govt isn't keen on a radical re-imaging of sovereignty. Chris Finlayson seems petty clear on the issue and when Helen was tested on the Foreshore and Seabed, she didn't let the judiciary draw a breath before she legislated the whole issue out of their hands. So I'm not expecting any real changes in sovereignty under this govt or the next. Much to the disappointment I'm sure of constitutional lawyers ;-)



by Lee Churchman on November 16, 2014
Lee Churchman

Because it's the closest thing we've got to an acceptable (where "acceptable" is viewed in the light of how we think things ought to be done today) basis for our nation's existence?

I missed this bit last time (controlling kids during posting does not help). Doesn't this then mean that the question of whether Maori sovereignty is acceptable depends on current views of the matter rather than anything the treaty says?

I have to say I get frustrated by the vagueness around the treaty. 

by Charlie on November 16, 2014
Charlie

William - it was smallpox blankets

 

by John Hurley on November 16, 2014
John Hurley

I for one never saw the treaty as a foundation stone. If it were a foundation stone it came with a subtext: "as long as you do what we (Maori) require" and that is as long as a piece of string (an open cheque book).

 

by Andrew Geddis on November 16, 2014
Andrew Geddis

@Nick,

So I'm not expecting any real changes in sovereignty under this govt or the next. Much to the disappointment I'm sure of constitutional lawyers ;-)

You may well be right as a matter of fact. And I wouldn't assume that constitutional lawyers will be "disappointed" by this. We'd have to change our lecture notes, for one thing ... .

@Lee,

Doesn't this then mean that the question of whether Maori sovereignty is acceptable depends on current views of the matter rather than anything the treaty says?

Well, it's a bit of both, surely? We're placing our present interpretation of what was "in fact" meant by that document (and thus our thinking about what those involved were thinking) alongside our understanding of why it "matters". Of course that's going to involve quite a bit of "vagueness" ... but doesn't any national history/founding story involve a lot of after-the-fact debate about how best to understand various episodes? Have a look, for example, at the US's history of reading and applying its constitutional documents, or the ongoing arguments about what the Civil War "really" meant!

by Lee Churchman on November 16, 2014
Lee Churchman

Well, it's a bit of both, surely?

I guess I didn't mean it in quite that way. I see us as having a choice between holding that the treaty is worthy because it fits with some present conception of justice, in which case it is that present conception doing the work, or holding that the treaty be treated as a valid contract which then may or may not compel us to accept things that present conceptions of justice might require. 

I don't see how it can be both in this sense, because either the treaty is subordinate to some other reasonably robust conception of justice (in the generic Rawlsian kind of sense), or the fundamentals of justice in NZ are subordinate to the treaty. I don't see how this can be had both ways. I know a lot of Maori sovereigntists see it the latter way, whilst the government seems to see it the former way. 

by Paul Comrie-Thomson on November 17, 2014
Paul Comrie-Thomson

Anyone know if there is a PDF version of the full report of He Whakaputanga me te Tiriti: The Declaration and the Treaty, knocking about anywhere?

by Andrew Geddis on November 17, 2014
Andrew Geddis

@Paul,

There's a chapter-by-chapter version on the Waitangi Tribunal's website.

by Alison McCulloch on November 19, 2014
Alison McCulloch

RNZ has a link to an embargoed pdf of the report http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/259356/tribunal-upholds-sovereignty-claim 

by Paul Comrie-Thomson on November 19, 2014
Paul Comrie-Thomson

Excellent.  Thanks!

by John L on November 20, 2014
John L

I agree with Paul Moon that the Waitangi Tribunal has got it wrong.

Look at the comments of two Kaitaia chiefs at the signing there: 

"Busby [Puhipi] Before the Pakehas came, we loved our own people; we sometimes quarrelled; then made war, then we made peace again, and rubbed noses; then we had another battle. I am glad you [the Governor] are come; let our hearts be one. If quarrels happen, who will settle them? You are so far off. Murder and theft may be repressed, but what shall be done with adultery; it is carried on privately; do not let it be said I hide anything.

Pi: It will be good to see all the adulterers hanged in a row"

1845 (108) New Zealand. Copies of letters from Mr. Shortland, late acting governor...

How can such statements be reconciled with the Tribunal's argument that Maori believed the Governer was only for Pakeha. To say nothing of the statements recorded by signatories at the Kohimarama Conference.

by Peggy Klimenko on November 21, 2014
Peggy Klimenko

@ Carlos: "Once again I'm surprised at the ease with which Russia is condemned for what is happening in Ukraine when ALL the evidence clearly points to the US as the guilty party."

I agree. Given the history of US interference in other polities over the last several decades, it's incumbent on everyone to view John Kerry's - and the current NATO head's - claims about the Ukraine with scepticism. The events which precipitated the current situation come straight out of the CIA's South America playbook; there is nothing that has happened there which is analogous to the colonisation of New Zealand.

Although there was the Black Sea Fleet Treaty between the Ukraine and Russia, the terms of which allowed Russia to keep its Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol (in the Crimea), along with up to 25,000 troops. Those are the troops which, the US ambassador to the UN claimed some months ago, were in Crimea illegally. Either she knew that this was untrue and was deliberately misleading the General Assembly, or she didn't know what she was talking about. Take your pick...

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