Treaty Legitimacy

Keith Ng has a provocative piece on the legitamcy of the Treaty, saying he is not convinced it is the basis of our rights as citizens, as both parties who signed it were unelected monarchs and chiefs.

To quote Keith:

So why then should we take seriously the idea that our right to be in New Zealand comes from the Maori chiefs who signed the Treaty?

After all, to accept that such an arrangement is still valid is to accept that rights come from rulers, and that rulers *own* those rights, that it is theirs to dish out, and that they then pass it on to the next set of rulers to dish out to their subjects.

I personally see the Treaty as being akin to the US Declaration of Independence. It is a founding document of the country, and an important one. But it is not a constitutional document which gives legal rights. To go back to the US situation there is no constutitional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (imagine the court cases on that last one) as expressed in the Declaration, but it is revered as the document which allowed their country to form.

Tze Ming Mok replies to Keith with some good points such as the fact the Magna Carta was signed between unelected monarch and lords, yet is part of our law today.

It’s a good debate, which deserves a wider audience.

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