6 Feb 2012

Public to be consulted on constitutional review

1:16 pm on 6 February 2012

The co-chair of a panel reviewing New Zealand's constitutional arrangements says one of its biggest challenges is making the public aware that a review is taking place.

The public will be consulted on a range of questions from the size of Parliament to the role of the Treaty of Waitangi and whether New Zealand should have a written constitution.

The existing constitution is made up of a range of documents, including the Bill of Rights, the Treaty of Waitangi and the Magna Carta.

The co-chair of the review's independent panel, John Burrows, says apathy will be a huge challenge.

Professor Burrows says it tends to take a crisis to get people interested in constitutional matters, however he believes the panel can get the public's attention.

"You have got to ask the right questions in an interesting way and show that they are relevant. So a challenge it is, but the panel's up for it."

But a barrister specialising in constitutional law believes it may be difficult for the public to take part in the review.

Claudia Geiringer says constitutional law has often been the preserve of lawyers and politicians and it can be challenging to engage with the public on it.

Ms Geiringer says the average New Zealander is not well informed, nor motivated to get informed on constitutional matters.

The panel will make its recommendations by September 2013.