Crown must 'give away some power' to honour Treaty

By Te Ao with MOANA
Professor Jane Kelsey (centre) says a genuine sharing of power is required by the Crown. Pictured (L-R) with Minister of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Andrew Little and Ngāti Kahungunu iwi leader Ngahiwi Tomoana.  Photo/File.

The Crown needs to be prepared to "give away some power" if the Treaty of Waitangi is to be honoured, a legal expert says.

Dr Jane Kelsey, a Professor of Law at the University of Auckland, told Te Ao with Moana that treaty settlements are skewed in favour of the Crown and there needs to be a genuine sharing of power.

“We need to be prepared to give away some power and that’s the hardest thing because all of the settlements to date have been asymmetrical, they’ve been one-sided," Dr Kelsey said.

"The Crown has effectively had the decision-making power ultimately. It sets the terms and that’s part of what we see at Ihumātao, not in the actual occupation now, but in the terms of the way that the Crown has engaged with Māori in the past.

"It’s a one-sided process and Pākehā I think are still so scared to give away power, to share power genuinely, and until we’re prepared to do that then Te Tiriti doesn’t come into operation.”

The comments were made during the second of two special episodes on Te Tiriti o Waitangi broadcast on Māori Television at 8.00pm on August 20th and 27th.

Dr Kelsey was a panellist, with Treaty Minister Andrew Little and Ngāti Kahungunu iwi leader Ngahiwi Tomoana, on Te Ao with Moana.

Dr Kelsey said the Crown has consistently dictated the framework of treaty settlements.

“If we look at the evolution, for example, of the settlement policy, it’s always been the Crown saying these are the parameters, let’s work out the mandate and what the terms of negotiation are within the Crown determined framework.”

Minister Little acknowledged the Crown has parameters it works within.

“The Crown does have a formula because the Crown’s got to make sure that over the course of treaty settlements - they’ve been running for, mainly now, for 25 years - there is at least some consistency because the Crown’s got to still be fair," he said. 

"The Crown has always acknowledged it is not providing full restitution for the harm, the loss caused, but it is about providing some redress so that there can be some economic restoration and a facing of the future together.”

Mr Tomoana said the Crown's success is interwoven with the success of Māori and this needs to be reflected in the treaty relationship.

“Unless Māori reach our full potential, this government will never realise its full potential," he said.

"So policies and practices unamicable to our development, will hamper and hamstring this government's development, and we want to work shoulder to shoulder with this government rather than head to head head-butting.

"And so we’re prepared to do that in the treaty manner.”

WATCH the second of our two specials episodes on Te Tiriti o Waitangi here.
Part 1 - How just do you think treaty settlements are?
Part 2 - How hard is it to progress treaty settlements in a coalition government?
Part 3 - Has the fisheries settlement made a difference at the grassroots level?