Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights

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‘Relationship Matters’: Constitutional Protection of Indigenous Rights in Aotearoa New Zealand

By Fleur Adcock

Image from Fightback

Aotearoa New Zealand has recently begun a national dialogue regarding the place of Maori – its first peoples – in the country’s constitution. In February this year a Government-appointed Constitutional Advisory Panel kicked off the public consultation phase of its consideration of an array of questions concerning New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements. Topics for discussion include ‘Crown-Maori relationship matters’,[1] namely the role of the Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand’s constitution. The Treaty, signed between representatives of Maori and the Crown in 1840, exchanged British governance for the protection of Maori rangatiratanga (self-determination). It remains the pivotal instrument around which Maori concerns regarding their rights as Indigenous peoples foment. The review also includes consideration of Maori political representation, such as the Maori electoral option that allows Maori to choose to enrol on a separate Maori electoral roll; Maori electoral participation; and New Zealand’s dedicated seats for Maori in Parliament (voted for by those on the Maori electoral roll) and on some local government bodies. Continue Reading →