The Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand's Law and Constitution

THE TREATY OF WAITANGI IN NEW ZEALAND'S LAW AND CONSTITUTION, Victoria University Press

Posted: 7 Jul 2009 Last revised: 18 Jul 2009

Date Written: 2008

Abstract

The Treaty of Waitangi, signed by Maori and by the British Crown in 1840, is the founding document of New Zealand. Yet it is not incorporated into domestic law. This book examines the place of the Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand's law and constitution - where it is and where it should be. It undertakes an in depth analysis of the contemporary meaning of the Treaty of Waitangi, its legal status and its constitutional place. The book suggests that the meaning of the Treaty of Waitangi has been reinterpreted through a process of constitutional dialogue from 1973 to 1993. Today, its general meaning is best understood as representing an explicit commitment to the health of the relationships between the Crown, Maori, and other New Zealanders. Yet the specific meaning of the Treaty in relation to particular issues depends on context and therefore remains uncertain. This uncertainty is exacerbated by the incoherent legal status and inconsistent legal force of the Treaty of Waitangi. Underlying this is the continuing contested and tense uncertainty of the constitutional roles of New Zealand's public institutions in relation to the Treaty of Waitangi today. The key focus of the forward-looking part of the book is on how to achieve the objective of healthy relationships between the Crown, Maori and other New Zealanders. The conclusion is that, in order better to achieve this objective, change is desirable - change that stabilises the place of the Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand's law and constitution. The Treaty should be given legal force, as judged independently by a new Treaty of Waitangi Court. This book was awarded the JF Northey Book Award by the Legal Research Foundation for the best book published by a New Zealand based author in 2008.

A copy of the book may be ordered from Victoria University Press.

Keywords: Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand, indigenous

Suggested Citation

Palmer, Matthew S.R., The Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand's Law and Constitution (2008). THE TREATY OF WAITANGI IN NEW ZEALAND'S LAW AND CONSTITUTION, Victoria University Press. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1429905

Matthew S.R. Palmer (Contact Author)

High Court of New Zealand ( email )

Auckland, CX10222
New Zealand

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