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Mike's Minute: Time for some facts on the Treaty Principles Bill

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Thu, 8 Feb 2024, 9:35AM

Mike's Minute: Time for some facts on the Treaty Principles Bill

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Thu, 8 Feb 2024, 9:35AM

I was wondering how long it would take, given what we have seen this week at Waitangi. 

ACT have launched a campaign to outline some facts on their Treaty Principles Bill. 

They have done this because, like most of these sort of debates, what you start out with by way of an idea very quickly turns into something else, due largely to those who oppose it and start to spread the misinformation. 

The Treaty Principles Bill has turned into, if you listen to those who don’t want it, a law to rewrite the Treaty, trash the Treaty, change the Treaty, strip rights away from Māori and so it goes. 

The original idea was a referendum. We listen, we debate, we vote. 

What is being pointed out in this campaign is that what we started with i.e. the same rights and duties for all New Zealanders, has been over the past few decades twisted into a series of ideas, not to mention laws, that somehow leaves us with a system whereby Māori, because they are Māori, get things non-Māori don’t. 

That, in simple terms, is not what was signed up to. 

The Māori Health Authority, and its future for example, will be part of a Waitangi Tribunal case. 

Firstly, the tribunal has no teeth, and they don't make law. 

Secondly, the Māori Health Authority is, comparatively speaking, brand new and is a good example of what ACT argue. 

The Treaty wanted all New Zealanders to have equal access to healthcare, and we do. Healthcare does not discriminate on race. 

But a Māori Health Authority is a race-based organisation. 

The interpretation of the Treaty has become an industry. The simplicity of a 200-year-old document has turned into an exercise in minutiae, with outworkings that may or may not have anything to do with the original intention. 

And that is all ACT want to do - debate it, not rewrite it. 

You could argue that if this goes nowhere it's a lot of energy for nothing, especially given the state the country is in elsewhere. But as the Curia poll showed, 60% of us broadly like the idea. 

I think ACT are onto something. 

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