27 Feb 2013

Treaty seen as needing more prominence

6:37 am on 27 February 2013

A human rights expert says a panel appointed by the Government to seek people's views on the constitution is not giving enough prominence to the Treaty of Waitangi.

Twelve panel members, co-chaired by Sir Tipene O'Regan and Emeritus Professor John Burrows, are finding out how the public wants New Zealand to be run in the future.

They formally opened submissions on Tuesday, seeking feedback on matters such as human rights, the relevance of the Treaty of Waitangi and whether Maori should have special seats in Parliament.

Human Rights Commission Treaty kaiwhakarite Bill Hamilton, who was at the launch, said he's keeping an open mind, but already has some worries about the process.

Mr Hamilton said the constitution is being treated as if it encompasses the Treaty of Waitangi, when it should be the other way around.

He thinks the panel is being cautious because the wider public does not have the maturity to honestly discuss the Treaty.