Everyone living in New Zealand should care about the Treaty. Pakeha in particular should be interested for two main reasons:
- we have let our Treaty partner (Maori) down in the past, and
- in the name of redressing this past wrong we are facing the loss of our democratic rights.
The Treaty is a partnership, and like all partnerships it needs to be honoured. The issue confronting Pakeha is that our forefathers didn’t always stick to their side of the bargain. Considering all that has happened since 1840 – the good, bad and the truly awful – the question we all need to ask ourselves is: how can we reach the point we’re all proud to be in this partnership? There are certainly past wrongs that need redressing. However, in the process of doing this, constitutional change is being conducted by stealth, far from the minds of the general public and most certainly without its consent. Of particular concern are recommendations emanating from the Waitangi Tribunal granting Maori unique political rights (such as Parliament’s Maori seats, and similar proposals for Local Authorities). Granting any group unique political power is only legitimate if there is general agreement for those powers to be granted. It is not up to a bunch of lawyers immersed in the Treaty process. Constitutional change requires the consent of all New Zealanders. Ignorance is no excuse – all New Zealanders need to get themselves up to speed on Treaty issues, and quickly. That is why the Morgan Foundation has undertaken this work.