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May 15, 2017 | by  | in Editorial |
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Editors’ Letter

Who are we to talk about the constitution? We’re not legal experts, we’re not history buffs, we have limited knowledge of legislation, and of kawa and tikanga. We are also four tauiwi and thus unsure of the authority we have to speak on some issues.

But we were fortunate enough to speak to two people who are much more knowledgeable in this field. Sir Geoffrey Palmer and Moana Jackson have been prominent figures in leading two different discussions regarding NZ’s constitution: as it is, and what it could be. Thank you to the both of them for agreeing to speak with us. We encourage you to engage with both of their work. You can find the full transcripts and audio of the interviews we had with them online at salient.org.nz/category/interview/.

And so we listened, and read as much of what we could of their reports, and tried to understand the word “constitution”.

Inevitably, as you’ll find in our piece, we were more partial to Moana Jackson’s argument and desire for constitutional transformation as opposed to mere reform. While there are tangible benefits that would come from Sir Geoffrey Palmer’s proposal, it feels like it will simply reaffirm the status quo — the perpetuation of the subordination of Māori jurisdiction that has been the reality here since colonisation.

“But realities are created by humans, and the current constitutional reality cited in parliament has only been here 170 years — was made by humans. For hundreds of years prior to that there was another reality, created by a different group of humans, which colonisation sought to destroy.”

Constitutional transformation is therefore a process of moving beyond the current reality:

“So when I talk about constitutional transformation, I talk about a system based on the Treaty relationship which allows a kawanatanga space, but also requires the reestablishment of a rangatiratanga base. That rangatiratanga base would be based, or function within, the parameters of our law.”

 

P.S. Shout out to all who supported the Living Wage day last week. It’s about time VUW payed their directly employed and contracted staff a wage they can live off!

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