Deletion of Principles of Treaty of Waitangi Act PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steven Young   
Monday, 13 August 2007




To the Justice and Electoral Committee



The New Zealand Chinese Association was established in 1935 with its own building in Wellington and 13 branches throughout New Zealand.  It is the only Chinese community organisation with national coverage.


We wish to appear before the Committee to speak to our submission.



The postal address of the New Zealand Chinese Association is:


New Zealand Chinese Association Inc

P O Box  6008,

Te Aro



The contact person for this submission is Steven Young who may be contacted as follows:


P O Box                       6168, Wellington

Telephone:                    04 384 4665

Fax                              04 384 4800

Mobile                         021 932 352






1.         The premise on which the Bill is based is incorrect.




2.         The Bill seeks to delete the words “the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi” from all legislation because it is claimed these words are either undefined or ill-defined.  While these words may not have been defined in legislation they have been defined by various judgements of the Court of Appeal and by reports of the Waitangi Tribunal.




3.         If the Legislature, Parliament, believes that these principles are not adequately defined by the Judiciary, it should improve their definition, not try to eliminate the principles of the Treaty by eliminating these words from legislation.


4.         Also, it is not clear that eliminating the words “the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi” from legislation, as proposed in the Bill, will stop the principles of the Treaty from being applied: the judgments of the Court of Appeal stand, as do the reports of the Waitangi Tribunal, and these carry considerable weight and in some cases have binding effect on the Executive.




5.         The Bill is fundamentally unconstitutional, likely to be confusing, ineffective and highly divisive. If passed, the Act would cause a constitutional crisis and promote intense social unrest.




6.         The Bill seems to be an attempt at the denial, erasure or forced forgetting of New Zealand’s history when what we all need is the remembering and acknowledgement of history, accountability, reconciliation and healing.  The community’s experience, and especially the Chinese community’s experience of this latter process in the case of the Poll Tax consultation and reconciliation, has been very positive.









7.         While the promotion of the Bill reflects concern over a range of issues including the role of Maori and other ethnicities in New Zealand social and political life, the Bill is not a positive solution that will enable all New Zealanders to move forward.




8.         The current Treaty discourse has had the unintentional effect of making members of the public feel excluded from discussions whose outcomes have a serious impact on  New Zealand’s future. 




9.         Many ethnic New Zealanders, including the Chinese believe the attention and concern over Maori issues detract from the recognition of their own issues or even the place of ethnic New Zealanders in the wider New Zealand community.



10.       From the above, two important concerns arise:


  • The place of the community in Treaty debate (the “third party” to the Treaty) and


  • The lack of an independent forum in which such issues are discussed.





11.       Many Chinese in New Zealand recognise the clear historic injustice Maori have suffered, having been the subject of injustice ourselves over a considerable period of our history in New Zealand.





12.       The way forward must be through methods that encourage alliance and agreement and not division. Safe and independent forums are needed for constructive debate not only on Treaty/Maori issues but also on race relations issues and New Zealand’s multi-ethnic, multi-cultural future.





13.       The Government should take a lead on this as well as communities.  It is important that white New Zealanders as the dominant group should be engaged in this process so that the problem is not seen as a Maori/ethnic problem.





14.       The Government should take the lead on initiatives that encourage cross-community activities. This involves not just talking but creating opportunities for active engagement with each other on common goals that have real outcomes.  (The Association’s Branches plan to embark on a number of such cross-community projects which would be helped along greatly by Government support.).










15.       The New Zealand Chinese Association recognises the Treaty as New Zealand’s founding document and supports the legal processes around the Treaty including the continued recognition of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi in existing legislation.




16.       Within our community there are concerns that the Treaty of Waitangi will, by future piecemeal legislation, be conferred with influence that sets the tone for the nation’s broader direction. While respecting the legal rights embodied in the Treaty, issues relating to the nation’s broad direction should be the subject of open debate – with the aim of agreeing a direction that reflects the country’s bi-national founding and bi-cultural development, and increasingly multi-ethnic and multi-cultural reality and future.
















Last Updated ( Monday, 13 August 2007 )
< Prev   Next >

Who's Online