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SANDRA GOUDIE: What Treaty Principles?

What Treaty Principles? There are none.

The Attorney General responded to my request for a copy of the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi by saying that there is no ‘authoritative copy’ of the Treaty Principles, but he said they have been ‘explored and discussed’ by the courts and the Waitangi Tribunal. (Letter available from the Attorney General’s office – just write and ask him for it.)

Exploration and discussion does not a principle make.

The Attorney General also happens to be the Minister for the Environment, or was, maybe he still is…. and of course I raised this matter in my submission to the select committee on the Natural and Built Environment Bill.

There is an escalation of the Treaty Principles being incorporated into legislation, and the wording is changing and escalating alongside it. From the old days it was ‘have regard to’. Then it became ‘have regard and give effect to’, now we get the ‘give effect to and provide for’ the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. Fascinating when no-one seems to know what they are.

Next came the Election Review Panel, and lo and behold apart from the idiocy of wanting to give 16 year olds the vote, they also want to incorporate the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Naturally I emailed attaching the letter from the Attorney General and asked them to provide a copy of the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. The Election Review Panel aped the Attorney General and offered a ‘guide’ to the Treaty Principles. Well, how can you have a guide to principles that don’t exist? Besides, I asked for a copy of the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, not a ‘guide ’. Clearly the request was too simple.

So what to do! I know, write to the boss! Said the little red hen, and so I did. And once my 20 days are up I should have a reply from Chippie! One thing they did do as I started down this track was to get me to send to DPMC (Dept PM and Cabinet) identification to prove I am me. That was a new one. After asking if that was a scam, by which they replied by email no, I supplied the requested documents to prove I am me. Oh and yes, I have been sending my correspondence to lots of other people. Accountability comes through the eyes of many. Sunshine love.

So as this farce continues, it would appear that there are no Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, so ergo, there can be no guides or guidelines. Somewhat dis-ingenuous to be able to create something from nothing. It rather begs the question about what Councils around the country will now do as they recognise this somewhat glaring oversight which I suspect has been known by some for a while now. Think of the money they can save!

Given the absence of the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, there can be no breach when we all go about our business as fellow human beings.

Sandra Goudie. Retired Mayor. Retired Member of Parliament.

This piece was first published at Breaking Views

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