20 Aug 2012

NZ Constitution panel told Treaty focus risks excluding Pacific communities

10:20 am on 20 August 2012

The panel leading New Zealand's constitutional review has been told a bicultural focus on the Treaty of Waitangi won't be fair to Pacific and migrant communities.

The warning came at the Human Rights Commission's diversity forum in Auckland yesterday, where a review panel member Ranginui Walker said the Treaty of Waitangi is top of their list.

But James Liu of Victoria University said the treaty has led to a kind of federalism, with the redistribution of resources to Maori as a nation within a nation.

Professor Liu asked if that is to be entrenched in a constitution, then why couldn't there be an Auckland Supercity Federal Zone, in which multiculturalism rules.

The Auckland Council's Pacific advisory panel chair, Uesifili Unasa, said the review must consider the special status of Pacific peoples in New Zealand.

He said Niueans, Cook Islanders and Tokelauans are New Zealand citizens by right and Samoans have a constitutional standing through their Treaty of Friendship.