Vision: An Aotearoa governed according to tikanga and kawa

(Original article posted Dec 2010, updated Jan 2012)
How can we help push a constitutional review towards this vision?

We hope whānau will have a say in what rules and guidelines this country should be governed by. We urge people to find out what the current constitutional review process is all about. 

Te Wharepora Hou would like to offer the following information to start kōrero among whānau.

What is a ‘constitutional review’ and why should I care?
Starting in 2011, the government will take a step back and look at the ‘bigger picture’ of how we run this whole country. This is the ‘constitutional review’ that you will hear about.

This could be very important for Māori, but it certainly won’t fix everything. The government’s laws and policies have always impacted on our right to live as Māori. Politics affect our day to day living; what education our tamariki can receive, what sort of healthcare is available, whether your whānau still own your tūpuna land, what support is available for you when you are jobless and homeless or struggling to access basic needs, whether your land will be mined or fracked, whether your seas will be drilled for oil and many many more situations in life. As Māori, political power has often played a big part in our right to our identity and our unique place as Tangata Whenua of Aotearoa.

What do we have currently?
At the moment we do not have a single document that is ‘our Constitution’.  We have a collection of different documents and laws that guide how we make laws and policies. The  Treaty of Waitangi is considered to be one of those documents. This review will consider the place of the Treaty of Waitangi. The review may have an impact on how we assert ourselves as the Tangata Whenua of this land.

What is at stake?
Together as Māori we could seize this opportunity to design a set of rules according to tikanga and kawa. Our collective wisdom could offer an improved system of political power. Positive change for whānau is good for the future of all New Zealanders.

Who should keep me informed?
The government have called for this review. There is a government panel who will lead the public discussion. They are called the Constitutional Review Panel.

There is also an iwi group lead by iwi representatives Moana Jackson and Margaret Mutu. They are called the Constitutional Transformation Working Group.

How can I take part?
Both the government panel and the iwi group will be asking for your whakaaro and ideas. There will be hui held around the country in 2012.

It is important that whānau understand that this korero is not just for academics, lawyers, politicians and iwi leaders. As Māori, we have a right and also a responsibility to have our say. Our experiences in our every day lives and our ideas for how to improve our right to live as Māori is the information that we should be asking the government to value.

Your iwi are not the only way to have a say, make sure you know how to be involved no matter where you live or who you are connected to.

Who is putting out this article?
Te Wharepora Hou is a collective of wāhine who are mainly Tamaki Makaurau based, but we have strong participation from wāhine based elsewhere in Aotearoa and the world. We have come together to ensure a stronger voice for wāhine and all those who are too often silenced. We are concerned primarily with the wellbeing of whānau, hapū, iwi and all that pertains to Papatūānuku and the sustenance of our people.

We want to ensure that whānau are well informed of important issues so you could contact us if you would like further information.

Te Wharepora Hou


Marama Davidson

021 025 88302

Author: Te Wharepora Hou

Te Wharepora Hou is a collective of wāhine who are mainly Tāmaki Makaurau based, but we have strong participation from wāhine based elsewhere in Aotearoa and the world. We have come together to ensure a stronger voice for wāhine and are concerned primarily with the wellbeing of whānau, hapū, iwi and all that pertains to Papatūānuku and the sustenance of our people.

7 thoughts on “Vision: An Aotearoa governed according to tikanga and kawa”

  1. (response copied over from original Dec 2010 article)
    Potaua says:

    January 4, 2011 at 8:17 am (Edit)

    If anything requires the full attention of our country it is this Constitutional Review. We have so much to look forward to in the future and at the same time, a great many responsibilities and obligations when it comes to protecting our own national independence on this increasingly international stage.

    What will gain more of our attention is the Rugby World Cup and then the 2011 Election so then, how does this, the next phase of our national growth get into the talk of the people…

  2. The problem with this constitutional review is that the pen is not held by the people but by those that have unlawfully imposed a system of legal fiction upon tangata whenua. Many know this as Admiralty law also using Trust law. The problem with these jurisdictions is that they consider corporations as persons yet do not consider humans as equal in the eyes of the law. Money buys favors and those complying with privatisation and exploitation of our nation become “above the law” and start to act like it in their dealings with everyday people.

    So if you ask me whether a constitutional review is required incorporating the Treaty of Waitangi I would suggest you remember that it has already been adjudged a nullity. So what does this leave us with? It leaves us with the lawful right to live by Kawa and Tikanga as whanau-hapu now! We have declared our independence by the Declaration of Independence in 1835. This has been recognised internationally. We also have a sovereign flag as recognised by King William IVth 1834. He Whakaputanga specifies our society and the flag gives us sovereign jurisdiction in the existing system.

    It is time to get to it not to play fiddle and submit to other wishful processes in the hopes of being granted something from the same peopel / lineages that tried to subvert our way of being.

    More info at

  3. Ae Simon Kaiwai Moana Jackson in the video below talks about rejecting the parliamentary process completely – the iwi led process that I refer to in the article above, maintains the power imbalance issues that you raise.

    There is some confusion about the two different processes – the govt led one and the iwi led one. I am looking forward to whanau being able to distinguish the differences between the two although I take on board if the info I am putting out is not clear.

    At the end of the day, I would like all whanau to be informed enough to see who is leading which process, what a constitutional korero could and won’t do, and how can all whanau contribute and be involved, if they choose to.

    Personally I am agree that true independence in this process is required lest we duplicate what is already not working. And the iwi led group sound like they will be encouraging that thinking.

    But it is also important that whanau are clear that there is a govt led process happening so we can all make the choice how to participate.

    Simon I know that the very issues you are raising, should and will be raised throughout the overall discussions.

    And as I hoped to start the thinking and discussion with the article I put out – I can see that is happening so for that I am pleased.
    Nga mihi.

  4. My concern is that the Constitutional Review is not the priority for Maori, nor is it the priority for New Zealand, because the deadly structural defects in the system of government, and the bias of enforced power by the majority, means human rights in New Zealand are largely unknown and unrecognised.
    How can we know how to design a constitution to define and protect human rights, if we don’t know what our human rights are, and are unable to exercise them? For human rights are only established when we exercise them, until then, they exist only as a concept.
    Note the difference between two founding documents on human rights.
    The American Bill of Rights, though it has been expanded, exists as the founding document of American law in perpetuity. All American law is defined by the Bill of Rights, all proposed law is made null and void if it is in conflict with principles inherent in the Bill of Rights.
    The Treaty of Waitangi is the founding document on which the legitimacy of New Zealand government is based. But annexation of New Zealand permitted a duality in the role of government; as benevolent Treaty Partner, and as hostile invading force; one hand holding the Treaty, the other holding the gun.
    Because the Treaty is a founding document which pre-dates modern law, like the American Bill of Rights, the Treaty has the same capacity to make null and void all laws that conflict with principles inherent in the Treaty.
    Only the Treaty stands between New Zealand governments claim to govern legitimately, and the reality of annexation, invasion, ethnic cleansing, and the process of a case through International Courts of Justice, in the same process followed by countries who suffered the same fate.
    The question must be asked why the New Zealand government has chosen this point in time to launch a Constitutional review.
    A Constitutional review has the effect of diverting attention from the fact that New Zealand government policy at this time amounts to such an attack on the existance of the Treaty that the New Zealand government has abrogated, repealed, cancelled, the Treaty.
    For the Treaty, like the contract that it is, requires reciprocal action, the concession of one party, in recognition of concessions made by the other.
    The abrogation, repeal, cancelation of the Treaty by the Government of New Zealand must activate the default clause of the Treaty, because the reciprocal nature of the Treaty no longer exists, opening the way for a case for the return of New Zealand to its Indigenous Maori owners, entailing recognition of annexation, ethnic cleansing, and the dismal record of injustice and contravention of human right evidenced by New Zealand governments own statistics. Arohanui

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