Te Pāti Māori leaks Government's draft Treaty of Waitangi principles

Te Pāti Māori has uncovered the Government's draft Treaty of Waitangi principles, alleging it will "erase" Te Tiriti. 

But Justice Minister Paul Goldsmith says the paper is simply a draft document from the Ministry of Justice and "has not been seen or considered by Cabinet".

Rawiri Waititi, the co-leader of Te Pāti Māori, said on Thursday the Government intended to "erase Te Tiriti o Waitangi", posting a photo on Instagram of a leaked draft of the Coalition's proposed principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. 

"Let this be the fuel to our fire! See you all on Saturday!" 

As part of the post-election Coalition deal, the ACT Party reached a deal with National and NZ First to get a Bill on the principles on the Treaty of Waitangi to the first reading. 

It was a compromise on ACT's proposed referendum on the matter, with Prime Minister Christopher Luxon saying before the election a public vote on such a matter would be "divisive and not helpful".   

Speaking to Newshub Nation late last year, ACT leader and Regulation Minister David Seymour admitted his Coalition partners were sceptical about a referendum. 

That scepticism is highlighted in the leaked document shared by Waititi. 

"I expect the Bill may be highly contentious. This is due to the fundamental constitutional nature of the subject matter and the lack of consultation with the public on the policy development prior to the Select Committee," it said. 

The Bill proposed, according to the document shared by Waititi, the three new Treaty of Waitangi principles be: 

  • Article 1: The New Zealand Government has the right to govern all New Zealanders 
  • Article 2: The New Zealand Government will honour all New Zealanders in the chieftainship of their land and all their property 
  • Article 3: All New Zealanders are equal under the law with the same rights and duties. 

That compared with the current Treaty of Waitangi principles, which were: 

  • The Government has the right to govern and make laws 
  • Iwi have the right to organise as iwi and, under the law, control their resources as their own 
  • All New Zealanders are equal before the law 
  • Both the Government and iwi are obliged to accord each other reasonable cooperation on major issues of common concern 
  • The Government is responsible for providing effective processes for the resolution of grievances in the expectation that reconciliation can occur. 

In a statement on Friday, Goldsmith reiterated Coalition leaders National would only support a Treaty principles Bill to its first reading.

"However, Christopher Luxon has been clear that National has no intention to support it beyond that," Goldsmith said.

Despite critics previously saying the Bill would take New Zealand's race relations back decades, Seymour said in November he was looking forward to debating the issues. 

He suspected "people are actually going to really welcome that conversation", he told Newshub Nation. 

"It's going to be a really positive thing," Seymour said.

"People who are out there saying, 'This is all terrible - we're not allowed to have that debate'… Hang on a minute, debating the principles of the Treaty actually increases the mana of the Treaty because we're finally talking about it democratically." 

The leaking of the document comes ahead of Saturday's Hui for Unity, to be held at Tūrangawaewae Marae in Ngāruawāhia. 

Several thousand were expected to attend the hui, which is being hosted by Kiingi Tuheitia Pootatau Te Wherowhero VII, also known as Kiingi Tuheitia or the Māori King.   

The purpose of the hui was to come up with a response to the Government's policies on Māori affairs - particularly te reo Māori and Te Tiriti.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon confirmed on Thursday he wouldn't be attending the hui, with Māori Development Minister Tama Potaka and Māori Affairs Select Committee chair Dan Bidois representing the Government instead.