New Zealand First deputy leader Shane Jones has hit out at the content of a leaked document from the Ministry of Justice on the Government’s proposed Treaty Principles Bill, suggesting it’s a “manifesto” of “phobia”.
The document, also known as a legal bid, was sent to various Government departments for consultation.
“The Bill will… change the nature of the principles from reflecting a relationship akin to a partnership between the Crown and Māori to reflecting the relationship the Crown has with all citizens of New Zealand. This is not supported by either the spirit of the Treaty or the text of the Treaty,” the report’s author said.
Minister of Justice Paul Goldsmith said: “This is a draft Ministry of Justice document that has not been seen or considered by Cabinet.”
ACT leader David Seymour said that the meaning of the Treaty of Waitangi has been twisted to give different groups of people different rights and that New Zealanders were “never consulted on this”. He wants to clarify the Treaty’s principles, he said.
Speaking to Breakfast this morning, Jones said: “Let’s be very careful, no one is altering the existence or indeed the wording of the Treaty… There seems to be an odd mixture of Treaty, iwi mania rippling around at the moment.
“I was quite taken by the phobia that seems to be seeping through that particular document.
“I like my documents from the bureaucracy to be pithy and not written as manifestos.
“No one should imagine that that’s the position of our Cabinet or indeed of our ministers.”
Jones stressed that Cabinet hadn’t even seen the document, saying he’d only learnt of its contents through the media.
“I think that the language in the document actually is not informative, it’s slightly delusional and it certainly has created a new set of misunderstandings,” he said.
It comes after a national hui led by Kiingi Tuuheitia in response to the Government’s proposals for Māori.
“The hui was very political,” Jones said, adding he was impressed by the number of people who turned out.
“But I want to go to the pith of the issue. The legitimacy of the election, and the desire of our government to have a reset in respect of the Waitangi Tribunal and ensure that the principals – and the references to the principals of the Treaty of Waitangi in legislation – we stood, we campaigned and we enjoyed a legitimate mandate as a consequence of October 14.
“I just fear that we’re in the grip of an iwi Treaty mania.
“We’re doing nothing to change the essence of the Treaty.”
Jones said he was concerned about the Waitangi Tribunal causing further polarisation and division.
‘I’m not concerned by that at all’ – Brooke van Velden
Later on Breakfast, Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick and ACT deputy leader Brooke van Velden discussed the issue.
“There is no legislation,” van Velden emphasised. “There is no bill yet, it hasn’t been drafted.
“So what we’re already seeing is just very early advice to make sure that a Treaty Principles Bill gets onto the legislative programme.
“What ACT is saying is that we need to have a discussion; an honest, open, adult discussion about what the Treaty means in modern New Zealand,” she said.
Asked if she was concerned by the Ministry of Justice’s advice, she said: “I’m not concerned by that at all.
“What we’re asking for in ACT is for there to be a public consultation, which is what this bill proposes.
“People have felt like our country’s really divided. What having this bill go through a select committee process will do is allow for all New Zealanders to be able to have their say and talk openly about how we can be a united country.”
Swarbrick took a different view.
“This was free and frank advice from Ministry of Justice officials making it abundantly clear that the Government hasn’t undertaken any consultation with the most directly impacted communities here, those being iwi Māori.”
She called the Government’s proposals “incredibly reductive” and “prescriptive”.
“Frankly, it’s a mess, and New Zealanders should expect better from our Government when it comes to leading in this space.”