Friday, May 31, 2024

Chris Newman: Treaty Principles Come Before Rhetoric

The principles of law must pre-exist Te Tiriti o Waitangi of 6th February 1840. Scholars recognise that principles represent the fundamental truth operating as the foundation for all subsequent statements. On “principles”, Black’s Law Dictionary declares, “A truth or proposition so clear that it cannot be proved or contradicted unless by a proposition which is still clearer”. Principles establish the legal maxim, “earlier in time, stronger in law’.

In 1974 Minister of Maori Affairs Mat Rata proposed the Treaty of Waitangi Bill. He invited Parliament to consider, “the spirit of the Treaty”. His Act, passed in 1975, commences with these words, “An Act to provide for the observance, and confirmation, of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi...”.

Let us uncover Rata’s Treaty principles.

Te Tiriti was drafted in English by James Busby, under Captain Hobson’s supervision. Then the bi-lingual missionaries Henry and Edward Williams translated the draft into Maori. Te Tiriti was formulated in accord with written instructions from Lord Normanby of the British Colonial Office. About 530 chiefs and tribes consented with the Articles and surrendered tribal sovereignty. They first debated matters in Maori before signing at seven locations around New Zealand.

What were those fundamental principles, recognised by the British lawgivers, and by the clergymen who assisted Captain Hobson to write Te Tiriti? What were the principled Articles which the Maori chiefs, well-versed in diplomacy, political discourse, and tribal survival, were willing to embrace?

These principles were the oldest, most well-established articles of conduct acceptable to people. They were the principles enshrined in the British Common Law with its roots stretching back to 1,500 B.C.

Today, many politicians, media, academics, and influencers orchestrate discussions about Te Tiriti’s principles. However they demonstrate a woeful ignorance, or a deliberate denial of the ancient principles that support British Common Law and Western Civil Society. These principles shaped the Magna Carta of 1215. They support every major statute of the Westminster Mother Parliament, and they flourish in the hearts of people of good-will. The same principles are enshrined in the Bible’s Ten Commandments, written some 3,500 years before Te Tiriti.

MP Mat Rata was educated in the Ten Commandments. He was a disciple of the famous Maori Prophet T.W. Ratana whose mission ran from 1920 to 1939. Prophet Ratana declared on every marae in the country, “With Te Tiriti in one hand and the Bible in the other”.  Until Rata’s 1975 Act,  Maori people knew and accepted Te Tiriti’s Christian principles as a settled matter, so did all New Zealanders.

What are these principles? A careful reading of the Ten Commandments reveals the code of conduct, summarized thusly: act with honour, take responsibility for your actions, do not commit a foul. Every chief understood these rules. The missionaries taught them, Captain Hobson, his superiors, and Queen Victoria, lived by this code called the Golden Rule. Westminster Parliament was founded on the Bible’s principles, and its statutes were soaked in Christian morality.

New Zealand’s politicians, academics, media, and influencers should refer to the rulebook, ‘Parliamentary Practice on New Zealand, Chapter 3 – Role and Expectations of Members”. The section, “Conduct of members and Ministers” says it all: 3.4.1 Assumption that members are honourable, 3.4.2 Integrity and honesty, 3.4.3 Expectations of member behaviour, 3.4.4 Review of bullying and harassment in parliamentary workplace”.

Read that publication to discover principled terms like, “fidelity”, “absolute probity”, “careful”, “avoid misunderstandings”, “crime…bribe…offence”. This language defines the public’s expectation for parliamentarians’ moral conduct. Te Tiriti’s principles, therefore, are the Common Law legacy from our Mother Parliament, Westminster. 

The people of New Zealand expect all MPs to adhere strictly to these principles, to, “act with honour, take responsibility for your actions, do not commit a foul”. That is the minimum requirement for public office. Local Body representatives are expected to maintain the same moral standard.

Can you understand why debates about Te Tiriti’s principles must honour the British Common Law and its Biblical fundamentals?

Unfortunately, many MPs, the media, academics, and influencers have abandoned any connection to moral principles. They would re-define the language and meaning in terms of political talking points. 

One worldly party declares Te Tiriti “principles” to be that: “The New Zealand Government has the right to govern New Zealand; The New Zealand Government will protect all New Zealanders’ authority over their land and other property; All New Zealanders are equal under the law, with the same rights and duties.”

Another political band of Maori activists assert their tribalist ideology of, “rangatiratanga, Kawanatanga, taonga, mana of mokopuna, and mana motuhake”, as if these are principles!

The above explanation proves how principles guide history and law for the best outcomes. The revisionists, Maori culturalists, and misguided political activists invent “talking points” and pretend these are principles. Their fundamentals are nonsense. 

Revisionist politicians fail to recognise the principles of Te Tiriti, so they violate the rules of Parliamentary Practice and commit a foul. Such people are unsuited to public office.

Chris Newman, author of ‘Fraud Plunder Treason And Our Treaty’ - available at - is a fifth generation Kiwi, who interprets current events through the lens of cultural sociology.


Anonymous said...

Hear, hear! Succinct and spot on.

Anonymous said...

I applaud your approach to establish the principles that the Treaty itself is rooted in before embarking on rhetoric. That seems like a very reasonable notion; to first agree on a common-denominator basis for meaningful discussion to build on. And that does seem to be sorely absent at this point and so we often see discussants widely talk past each other.

This is not a criticism, but a request for elucidation. You refer to the Golden Rule as "act with honour, take responsibility for your actions, do not commit a foul" rooted in the Ten Commandments. I have no objection to that on the face of it, but it is unclear to me from your piece whether this comes from Mat Rata, or somewhere else, or maybe from yourself. The reason I am interested is because normally, from my experience, the Golden Rule is stated along the lines of, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" with Second Testament roots as opposed to First Testament roots. In order for your approach to take root, a good thing in my view, clarifying this could be very useful. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on this.

Barend Vlaardingerbroek said...

>You refer to the Golden Rule as "act with honour, take responsibility for your actions, do not commit a foul" rooted in the Ten Commandments.

I'm blowed if I can read any of that into those 10 guidelines for a Bronze Age desert tribe that plundered, murdered and raped its way through the Sinai.

>the Golden Rule is stated along the lines of, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" with Second Testament roots as opposed to First Testament roots

Confucius and Isocrates beat you to it by a good 500 and 400 years resp.

I find it quite incredible that so many apparently informed people appear to have no clue about the origins and evolution of our law and ethics.

Anonymous said...

Barend Vlaardingerbroek, as you quote me in your post, and not Chris Newman, I assume you are addressing my comments.

Firstly, as you can see I am asking for elucidation from the author on the actual source of the code of conduct, that he suggests comes from a "careful reading of the Ten Commandments." I remain interested in what he has to say.

Secondly, yes indeed the Golden Rule has pre-biblical precedent, but Chris Newman is talking about this in reference to Mat Rata and early Maori Christianity. I take your point, but I am curious about why Newman chose the Ten Commandments and not Christianity as the basis for his code of conduct (slash) Golden Rule. I remain interested in what he has to say.

Anonymous said...

This is way too erudite for me.....what is wrong with the act party's simple understanding ....and why describe them as a worldly this meant to be a putdown?

Chris Newman said...

Let's distinguish between the Golden Rule, "treat others as you would be done by" and the principles of Common Law, "act with honor, commit no foul, take responsibility for your actions". A principle is a basic law, truth, or assumption that precedes other rules such as, "cars give way to pedestrians".

Both the Golden Rule and the pre-statute Common Law (not the lawyer's "common law") are principled approaches to human relationships. These are time-tested cultural ways accepted by the learned and unschooled.
They harmonise our motives and actions with the deeper aspects of purposeful relationships.

Principled insights become timeless cultural instructions. Through the ages they guide behavior and actions to outcomes favorable for individuals and society.

First, the Golden Rule is moral instruction for inner guidance, to strengthen the individual's conscience and indicate the external benefits of right conduct (social harmony).
Second, the Common Law principles exhort the individual to act from an external legal basis for the right action (behavioral discipline) that supports social cohesion.

Together these provide two angles for moral and cultural instruction.
They direct Western-style individuals, families, and communities toward stable relationships in a healthy Civil Society.

These principles are "baked in" to the culture and institutions that flowed from Britain to New Zealand. From the Magna Carta of 1215 (and earlier), through the Westminster Mother Parliament, the British people honoured these principles in their dealings. So, they introduced them to the somewhat lawless New Zealand population of 1840.

Colonial administrators like Lord Normanby and Captain Hobson (both active in the anti-slavery movement) acted with deliberation. They ensured that the "portal" of Te Tiriti positioned these principles as the bedrock of this new nation.

Note: I refer to the original Maori Treaty text written by Henry and Edward Williams, not the faulty James Freeman English text. Freeman's document is neither a draft nor a translation of Te Tiriti. However, Mat Rata's 1975 Act, by fraud, passed Freeman into legislation. Rata's fraud became the cause of our present Treaty difficulties.

Anonymous said...

To suggest that anyone alive today in part descended from a Māori has a separate, different, or superior rights to their fellow-citizens is arrant nonsense.

The prior arrival or ancestral longevity of some—often a handful of—ancestors in the land is no basis for special privilege.