Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Constitutional Hooey

When the Clark government held a high-profile hui to review the New Zealand constitution, there was a muted undercurrent to have “group rights” [sic] accepted as superseding individual rights, and an overt attempt to incorporate the Treaty of Waitangi into a new constitution.

The attempt is now being made again under this government—under the guidance of Bill English and Pita Sharples, and with the assistance of an “expert” advisory panel. Seeking to be said “experts” are the likes of Moana Jackson and Margaret Mutu, who is on the record as seeing the constitution of Bolivia as “a future model for New Zealand.”

For the record, this is a constitution that gives special “group rights” to “indigenous” Bolivians, and gives nature “equal rights” to human beings.

Maybe not a future model for New Zealand then, we hope, but certainly a strong candidate for the world’s next famine.

Helen Clark’s constitutional conference was ultimately unsuccessful—not because attendees were opposed to the idea of group rights (an anti-concept wiping out the recognition that individuals hold rights “not from the Collective nor for the Collective, but against the Collective—”as a barrier which the Collective cannot cross”), but mainly because Maori themselves were opposed to tying the Treaty down as long as they weren’t tying the knots themselves.  Such incorporation, said Shane Jones at the time, might “tie down the Treaty's mana as a 'sacred covenant'”; or as Ngatata Love said "I say what my tikanga is, not the law." Meaning, of course, that if law is clear and objective then witchdoctors won't be paid a fortune to give this week's interpretation of 'taonga.'

Clark was at least astute enough to realise giving the witchdoctors power to write their own constitutional ticket would be congenitally stupid, and left the constitutional question alone for the rest of her term. Key and English however, politically naive and desperate for Maori Party votes, are foolish enough to give the farm away before they’ve even realised what Sharples (and Mutu) have set their eyes on.

That vigilance, then, is going to be up to you and I.



  1. The main reason why I'm not enthusiastic about republicanism in this country is because this is exactly the kind of nonsense we could expect in the writing of a new constitution with the current ideological makeup of parliament. This really is an absurdity.

  2. Absolutely right Anon; a written constitution at present could well be a disaster, with even more rights to tax dollars and natural resources to one segment of society.
    Jeff W

  3. National will always be a bigger threat to individual rights because they are sheep in wolves clothing. The Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act could only have been passed by a National-led Government and the same applies to a Bolivian-type constitution. Likewise the use of troops and armed personnel carriers on the streets of Christchurch. Be afraid, very afraid, of Smiling John Key and his comrades.

  4. Meant to say, "wolves in sheep's clothing"!

  5. an odd exception to the law of non contradiction you are right in both cases...;-)

  6. Moari will only support a new constitution if it can be made into a cash cow to rival the treaty of Waitangi.

  7. Smiling idjit Key is selling us down the river, this is treasonous. The man has no shame. Indeed a wolf in sheep's clothing. Can we have Helen back now? Glossy, smug Key. Chills.


1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.