Interpreting the Treaty -- Questions of Native Title, Territorial Government and Searching for Constitutional Histories
Brad Patterson, Richard S Hill and Kathryn Patterson (eds), After the Treaty: The Settler State, Race Relations and the Exercise of Power in Colonial New Zealand (Wellington, 2016)
41 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2016 Last revised: 10 Jan 2017
Date Written: 2016
This essay deals with the various perspectives and interpretations of the Treaty of Waitangi over time. Drawn from a multi-author collection of essays in memory of the scholarship of the historian Ian Wards, the author argues that, whilst we must be mindful of not producing ‘treaty-centric’ histories, it is important not to reduce the historical interpretative complexities of the Treaty. Hickford continues by stating that one must be cautious when assuming the framers’ original intent deserves priority attention in interpretation. Instead we must look more deeply into the texts to embrace the nuances, complexities and frailties within them, including the ways in which they instantiated a number of interpretative communities. It is concluded that whilst the texts lived many lives of interpretation, argument and negotiation, their significance lies in their strength as texts, allowing them to become a lasting focus for political relations, and the development of constitutional histories (even as these material realities of indigenous and colonial co-existence were concealed or masked).
Keywords: Treaty of Waitangi, Legal Interpretation, Constitutional Histories, New Zealand
JEL Classification: K00, K10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation