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The Treaty of Waitangi - Principles for Crown Action

19 Victoria University of Wellington Law Review 335, 1989

Victoria University of Wellington Legal Research Paper Series Palmer Paper No. 26

12 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2012 Last revised: 24 Feb 2015

Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC

Victoria University of Wellington - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 1989

Abstract

This address was originally presented at the AULSA Conference on 7 July 1989. It elaborates on the five principles established as the policy guidelines for dealing with issues relating to the Treaty of Waitangi. The Waitangi Tribunal is empowered to make recommendations to the Government following inquiry. Its jurisdiction has been extended to consider claims back to the date the Treaty was signed. It has done some outstanding work and its reports have been regarded as scholarly and authoritative. It has produced a dozen major reports, a number of which have received Government action although there are still a number awaiting attention. The public attention concerning these facts, however, is confused and uncertain. Partly this is because it is not clear what the document means. Some of the scholarship surrounding the Treaty is highly suspect, fuelled by political motivation rather than detached analysis, and much misleading information has been conveyed by the media. This has had two effects. It has raised public fears about what the Treaty can bring about. And it has raised Maori expectations about what may be achieved under it for Maori. Both impressions are exaggerated, distorted and unfortunate.

The address discusses the New Zealand Maori Council v Attorney-General decision regarding the State-Owned Enterprises Act, viewing it as one of the most important decisions that any New Zealand court has ever made. The Government has had to find, in relation to the Treaty, a place to stand. It has agreed upon a series of principles for Crown action which are aimed to dispel doubt and remove confusion. More importantly, they will give Government Departments and agencies a clean set of policy guidelines about how to approach Treaty issues. It provides a clear articulation of the Crown’s responsibilities and a clear delimitation of the Crown’s obligations. These principles will guide the Crown’s activity in dealing with issues which arise out of the Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand.

The five principles are: The Principle of Government or Kawanatanga; the Principle of Self-Management, or Rangatiratanga; the Principle of Equality; the Principle of Reasonable Co-operation; and the Principle of Redress. The address considers each principle and discusses where it has been drawn from in the Treaty, its meaning and the implications of such a principle. As the whole picture of this complex matter becomes clear to New Zealand the country will see that this is an issue that can be dealt with calmly and rationally. Moreover they will see that there are no hidden traps and that this is a process from which we can all emerge winners.

Keywords: Treaty of Waitangi, principles of Treaty of Waitangi, Maori, New Zealand, state-owned enterprises

JEL Classification: K19

Suggested Citation

Palmer QC, Sir Geoffrey, The Treaty of Waitangi - Principles for Crown Action (1989). 19 Victoria University of Wellington Law Review 335, 1989; Victoria University of Wellington Legal Research Paper Series Palmer Paper No. 26. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2189236

Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC (Contact Author)

Victoria University of Wellington - Faculty of Law ( email )

PO Box 600
Wellington, 6140
New Zealand

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