The Treaty of Waitangi is New Zealand’s leading Human Rights document.
When it was signed 176 years ago there was a lot of passion, debate and deliberation.
176 years later – there is still a lot of passion, debate and deliberation when it comes to the Treaty of Waitangi.
And so there should be: great partnerships and relationships are worth fighting for, great partnerships are worth debating, they are worth perfecting.
This is the Human Rights Commission’s theme for Waitangi Day 2016:
Perfecting the partnership - Kia tika kia pono kia pūmau
Follow a path that is true and correct, is honest and in good faith, and is enduring and long lasting.
We encourage all New Zealanders and particularly our elected leaders: to follow a path that is true and correct, honest and in good faith, enduring and long lasting.
We encourage all New Zealanders to keep perfecting the partnership.
This concept derives from Ko Aotearoa Tenei: Report on Wai262 and Justice Joe Williams concluding statements in the report
“You will see that the reforms we propose are wide-ranging and detailed. They need to be, to address the problems we have uncovered. But, more importantly, they are the building blocks of a big and audacious vision, a perspective on a country of the future whose founding cultures have made a lasting kind of peace, where they have given one another the room each needs to grow and, with new confidence, made space also for the later migrants to join this unique project.
We are ambitious but not unrealistic. After all, this is Aotearoa, built on a Treaty partnership that we may yet perfect.”
When we sit down with one another and look each other in the eye and talk about the Treaty we believe that we must be thinking not just of the past but also of the future.
What kind of country do we want our children and their children to be living in?
The Treaty is about our shared past and our shared future.
Like us the Waitangi Tribunal has found that we are at a crossroads when it comes to race relations and we continue our quest for a sense of national identity.
We are now one of the most ethnically diverse nations on the planet and that demographic change happened in less than a generation.
We are also one of the most peaceful nations on earth: whether we leave this behind us – is ultimately up to us.
At a time when other countries were buying and selling human beings into slavery: here in New Zealand we were signing a Treaty that gave us all rights: it is our founding human rights document and it belongs to every New Zealander.
The Treaty of Waitangi is about each and every New Zealander, it carries the legacy of nation’s past and the hope of our nation’s future.
Our podcast, Speak Up – Kōrerotia, discussed 'Perfecting the Partnership with Perēri Hathaway (HRC), Arapata Hakiwai (Kaihautū at Te Papa) and Karirā Allen (Univeristy of Canterbury). Listen to it here or click below.
Learn more about our work on indigenous rights here.