Friday, November 30, 2012

Muriel Newman: Bicultural constitution threatens race relations

As a result of MMP politics, a new ‘written’ Constitution based on the Treaty of Waitangi as superior law, may well be imposed on New Zealand. Such a bicultural constitution would enshrine Maori privilege, turning non-Maori New Zealanders into second class citizens in their own land. It would give un-elected Judges supreme power over our elected Members of Parliament, ensuring that no future Parliament could ever remove the Treaty from our constitution. New Zealand would forever be locked into a divisive race-based future.

This plan to give the Treaty of Waitangi constitutional status is being driven by the Maori Party representing the tribal elite. After the 2008 election, they not only demanded ownership rights to New Zealand’s foreshore and seabed - in return for supporting a National-led government - but they set in train a constitutional review as well.

The problem is that when it comes to coalition agreements, the Maori Party appears to get what it wants - even if their racist demands are completely outrageous and damaging to the public good. We saw that only too clearly over tribal claims to the foreshore and seabed - in spite of widespread opposition to the repeal of Crown ownership,  the law change went ahead.  That’s why this new Maori Party demand for a bicultural constitution is so sinister.  

Their constitutional review process is already well underway. The Maori Party has been given $4 million of taxpayers’ money to persuade New Zealanders that a new ‘written’ constitution based on the Treaty of Waitangi as superior law, would be beneficial to our future. A biased Advisory Panel has been set up to carry out the “consultation”. Five of the 12-member panel are Maori studies academics with vehement anti-colonialist views, and seven are on record as saying they regard the Treaty of Waitangi as New Zealand’s founding document.

By the end of September 2013, this Advisory Panel is scheduled to submit their recommendations to the government. But the consultation process they have adopted is a sham. Over half of their allocated funding is being used on separate Maori-only consultation. For all other New Zealanders, the only meetings being held are by “invitation-only”. No public meetings are scheduled. In other words, the consultation process essentially locks out non-Maori New Zealanders and in doing so, it threatens to permanently put power and privilege into the hands of the Maori sovereignty movement.  

The reality is that New Zealand has no constitutional crisis that needs fixing. That’s what a 2005 Parliamentary review concluded. New Zealand’s constitution is simple and flexible and serves us well. It is based on the British model - a collection of statutes, principles of common law, and conventions. Our Parliament is sovereign.

With the review process already captured by those who seek to entrench corporate iwi in a position of unassailable racial, legal, cultural and economic superiority over all other New Zealanders, we must fight back and strongly reject any proposal for a new written constitution.

Accordingly, we have set up an alternative Independent Constitutional Review on the web at, with our own Panel of experts led by Canterbury University law lecturer David Round, along with Associate Professor Elizabeth Rata from Auckland University, Professor Martin Devlin from Massey University, Professor James Allan from Queensland University, NZCPR Research Associate Mike Butler, and NZCPR Founder Dr Muriel Newman. We have launched a “Declaration of Equality” to demand one law for all New Zealanders with no special treatment based on race. The objective of our “people’s review” is to reject the race-based takeover of our constitution. The biculturalism agenda being advanced by the separatists is backwards looking and divisive. It is time the country moved on.

We believe the majority of New Zealanders have had enough of official and legal racism. We are asking them to take a stand and support the Declaration of Equality - all New Zealanders equal in the eyes of the law with all race-based preferment abolished. If you believe in equal rights, then please visit our website at to sign the Declaration - and ask your family and friends to do the same. We must stop the separatists entrenching their hold over our country. We must change New Zealand’s course. It is now or never – our future as a nation depends on us.  


One law for all New Zealanders:
- no references to the Treaty of Waitangi in any 
constitutional document or legislation
- no race-based Parliamentary seats
- no race-based local body seats
- no Waitangi Tribunal 


Dr Muriel Newman is a former Member of Parliament who now runs the public policy think tank the New Zealand Centre for Political Research. This article was first published in The Grey Power Magazine.

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