For decades, the Treaty of Waitangi has formed a part of New Zealand’s approach to trade. Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta is kicking it up a notch. National Correspondent Lucy Craymer explains.
When the epochal Uruguay Round of global trade talks was happening almost four decades ago, New Zealand’s chief negotiator had a premonition.
Tim Groser reckoned the global trade arrangements being formed might – in ways he could not anticipate – come into conflict with the Treaty of Waitangi. In 1986, with a Labour Government led by David Lange in office, and vast economic and social reforms sweeping change across the nation at a breakneck speed, the modern significance of Te Tiriti was only starting to come into view.
“We could see a potential political problem arising whereby people would want to do things that we couldn’t quite foresee, in respect to the treaty,” Groser says. “We needed to avoid trade agreements getting in the way of that.”
The negotiation brought about the biggest reform to global trade ever and led to the creation of the World Trade Organisation. A clause was included allowing New Zealand to meet its treaty obligations, even if this meant breaching the global agreement.
Groser says it went through with no controversy and little publicity, even in New Zealand.
“I don’t think a single country raised a question let alone an objection. It’s not surprising. Why would they? Countries have bigger fish to fry,” he says.
A version of this clause, which allows the government to deliver on Te Tiriti ahead of its free trade obligations, has been included in every agreement since.
Most Pakeha don’t know that the Treaty is our out clause in free trade deals.
We can side track the exploitation by global corporations using the Treaty!
For me, I love the Treaty because of the relationship of responsibility it immediately sets up between the Crown and its people. I believe the Treaty needs to be expanded to all NZers and not just Maori because it sets out the obligations of the Crown to protect the rights of its people. We deserve as a nation to entrench the Treaty as the basis of our constitution so we can force Governments to protect our rights rather than strip us of them.
Pakeha want to gloss over the theft and confiscation of indigenous lands because it’s a shameful denial of the promise of a Treaty between two peoples and when you consider the paltry compensation that has been paid back to Maori via the Waitangi Tribunal, it’s a mere $1.4 Billion.
$1.2 Billion for confiscating the majority of NZ??? What is most egregious is that some Pakeha have the audacity to claim that pathetic reparation is a ‘gravy train’.
Paul Goldsmith’s assertion that colonisation has been wonderful because Māori gained literacy is jaw dropping in its stupidity!
One of the problems with NZ politics is that we have a unicameral Parliament, that means we just have one chamber with no upper house. This means NZs Parliament is one of the most powerful Parliaments in the world. It allows for legislation to be read straight into law and is one of the reasons why the neoliberal revolution was so ruthless and impossible to reverse.
I think one solution to the Waitangi Tribunal ruling is to consider a NZ Parliament Upper House that has 50-50 representation between Maori and Pakeha. If Sovereignty was never signed away, then the Government of today has a responsibility beyond paltry compensation for past injustices , it must provide real power sharing solutions.
Having a 50-50 Upper House with the power to delay legislation that was not in the best interests of the Nation when it comes to Treaty issues would stop Government’s from fire sales of national assets and prevent things like the Foreshore and Seabed legislation from becoming law.
An Upper House would be seen as a guardian of the Treaty for the maintenance of public well being over private gain, it would show real power sharing and for Pakeha, it would represent a political body that protect their public interests as much as Maori interests.
The Treaty saves us from neoliberalism you fools!
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