Concerns are growing across New Zealand’s Maori population over the government’s push to alter the country’s treaty with its Indigenous people.
The Treaty of Waitangi is a part of Aotearoa-New Zealand’s founding document but it’s meaning is often debated due to differences in the Maori and English Language versions.
The main point of contention is around whether or not Maori gave the British sovereignty over Aotearoa, with the Maori version only mentioning giving the British the ability to govern the islands.
The newly elected Luxon government has been labelled as Anti-Maori by Maori leaders over it’s decision to strip the Maori health Authority and remove Indigenous voices from water management,
Ngati Kahu Te Rarawa woman and Auckland University Maori studies professor Margaret Mutu says Aotearoa’s newly elected right-wing government is misinterpreting the Treaty
“The third article of the Treaty provides Maori with all access to all matters to do with English culture and all English law while retaining our own legal system and that the British would protect us from lawless British people.”
.”That is mistranslated to mean all New Zealanders live under one law and have the same rights and duties under one legal system.
So the whole thing is a deliberate mistranslation of our Treaty and is put in a way that Maori no longer exist and are no longer recognised.”
Earlier this month, Te Pāti Māori (the Maori Party) leaked a draft bill from the Ministry of Justice which highlighted plans to change the wording of the Treaty.
One of the controversial revisions was to alter the document to replace ‘Maori’ to “‘ll New Zealanders.’
“• Article 1: The New Zealand Government has the right to govern all New Zealanders
• Article 2: The New Zealand Government will honour all New Zealanders in the chieftainship of their land and all their property
• Article 3: All New Zealanders are equal under the law with the same rights and duties:” the alleged leak document says.
Ms Mutu says the supposed changes are troubling.
“As a result of that, Maori would no longer exist in this country.
So you could only ever be a New Zealand in this country, that the government would govern everyone.
Our treaty is very clear that Maori would always retain all authority, power and authority and sovereignty over ourselves and over all of our resources, and that our treaty invites the British to come and live with us and to live with us in peace and harmony.”
The Treaty Principles Bill is being proposed by coalition party, ACT New Zealand, with Prime Minister Chris Luxon saying his party -The National Party – will allow the bill to be debated in parliament.
Image: New Zealand Maori rowing ceremonial choreography, Credit: Jorge Royan Via Wikimedia Commons