Author(s): Matthew Palmer
What was the place of the Treaty of Waitangi in the law and costitution in 1840?
What has the Treaty been re-interepted to mean in New Zealand today?
What is its current legal status and force?
What is its current place in New Zealand's constitution?
In this acadenically robust and accessible book, Matthew Palmer answers these questions and goes on to provide concrete suggestions for where the Treaty should be in New Zealand's law and constitution.
The general meaning of the Treaty amounts to an explicit commitment to the health of the relationships between the Crown, Maori and other New Zealanders. However, the legal status of the Treaty is incoherent and it's legal force inconsistent, and the constitutional place of the Treaty remains contested and political, reflecting the underlying tension between democratic majority rule and the protection of the indigenous rights of a minority, as well as uncertainty about the foundational legitimacy of New Zealand's constitution.
Matthew Palmer concludes that the time has come to stabilise the place of the Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand's constitution and law. He is concerned that the uncertainty about who should resolve the uncertainties of the Treaty's meaning could engender knee-jerk reactions to particular issues that could irretrievably damage the relationships between the Crown, Maori and other New Zealanders. He makes specific proposals to address those issues, but more important than these proposals is the need for open and honest public discussion about the issues, options and solutions - before the next set of problems hit us in our collective face.
Matthew Palmer has worked as a senior official in New Zealand government and as Dean of Law at Victoria University of Wellington. He has experience of the reality of Treaty negotiations and coordinating Treaty strategy for the Crown and has taught and written about the Treaty of Waitangi and comparative indigenous peoples� rights in New Zealand and North America. The writing of this book was funded by the New Zealand Law Foundation through its award of the 2005 International Research Fellowship.