“The reality is that the Treaty principles – in terms of what’s been drawn up in terms of the ‘partnership’ – was already a compromise from Māori. That’s why the judiciary wrote up the partnership model – so if they want to go down this track they’ll open up a can of worms that they’ll live to regret.”
He said the government should not be pushing ahead with the bill.
“Absolutely, absolutely not, and Luxon should show some leadership and rule it out now. This is a disgrace, what ACT are doing, a total disgrace and a slap in the face for the judiciary and all the leaders who in past years have entrenched the partnership.
“You’re talking about National Party leaders like Jenny Shipley, Jim Bolger, Doug Graham, John Key. This is just laughable and idiotic stuff that is coming from Seymour, and Luxon should shut this down now because it goes in the face of legal opinion, legal history, judiciary decisions since 1987, prime ministerial decisions from National and Labour.
“All of a sudden we’ve got this so-called expert Seymour who thinks he knows more than every prime minister of the last 40 years and every High Court judge, Supreme Court judge – you name it … absolute rubbish and it should be thrown out.”
He said Seymour was “trying to placate his money men … trying to placate some of his extreme right wing mates”.
He did not trust the government to do as Luxon had said it would, and end support for the bill once it reached select committee.
“I mean surely this government would be the last group of people you’d trust right now wouldn’t you think? These are people that are going to disband our magnificent smokefree laws to look after their tax cuts.
“They also must be told in no uncertain terms that there can be no compromise on the Treaty relationship.”
Greens: ‘All of the kupu are a breach’
Green Party Māori Development spokesperson Hūhana Lyndon also said the government should not proceed with the bill, arguing all the words proposed by ACT for replacing the principles were a breach of the Treaty itself.
“All of the kupu are a breach to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and this is the choice of the National government to allow this to go ahead into select committee. There’s been no consultation with te iwi Māori or the general public.
“The government shouldn’t proceed with it. Te Tiriti o Waitangi is Te Tiriti o Waitangi – and those words need to be given effect to by the government, any changes to Te Tiriti o Waitangi is between hapū, iwi and the Crown.”
She said the new words proposed to assert a specific interpretation of te Tiriti and its historical context “does not give effect to te Tiriti and does not honour the sacred covenant that our tūpuna signed up for”.
“Ultimately, as we can see, even the government advice is cautioning strongly that the proposed words in the Treaty principles bill will be contentious, and could splinter – and, in fact, undermine – the strong relationship of te iwi Maori with the Crown to date as we have our ongoing conversation around how we honour te Tiriti o Waitangi.
“As we’ve seen with this government thus far, they are rushing through bad legislation under urgency, and this is no different to what we saw before Christmas.”
National: ‘It’s just a simple coalition agreement’
National’s Justice Minister Paul Goldsmith repeated to RNZ the party’s stance was to only progress it as far as the select committee, and no further.
“That’s what the prime minister has indicated,” he said. Asked why the government was even supporting it that far, he said it was part of the coalition agreement.
“Look, it’s just a simple coalition agreement that we have with the ACT Party, we agreed to support it to the select committee so that these matters can be given a public hearing, people can debate it. And so that was the agreement that we had.
“The process that we’ve got will introduce a bill that will have the select committee hearing, lots of different views on it and its merits.”
Asked about National’s position on whether the Treaty principles needed to be defined in law, he said their position was very clear, “that we support this piece of legislation going to the Select Committee and that’s as far as our support goes”.
He rejected Waititi’s suggestion it was an attempt to erase the Treaty.
“Look, I think there’ll be a lot of inflamed rhetoric over the coming weeks, and I’m not going to contribute to that … there’s no intention whatsoever to erase the Treaty and that’s not what this bill would do.”
When asked about the memo’s author saying the bill would be in opposition to the Treaty itself, he said the memo was a draft and the matter would be debated at select committee.