“With Cabinet today considering the controversial and divisive He Puapua document and what’s next for New Zealand after signing the UNDRIP – it’s time for the Prime Minister to be clear about her government’s intentions around co-governance,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The co-writer of He Puapua, Jacinta Ruru told Q+A at the weekend that He Puapua is a ‘bus stop’ to ‘compliance.’ New Zealanders will be keen to know if the Government sees it that way, which stop are we at and how compliant do we need to be?

“ACT has proposed a referendum on co-governance, that the Government pass legislation defining the Principles of the Treaty, in particular their effect on democratic institutions. Then ask the people to vote on it becoming law.

“As one Political Editor said at the weekend “Seymour may well be on solid ground to say a wider debate is needed around co-governance…. the level of confusion and suspicion in the public about what it means in the health and Three Waters reforms should make the Government wary. It has not yet made the case for it convincingly or clearly enough.”

“If Jacinda wants to continue down the path of co-governance, she needs to make her case and it needs to be stronger than just that the powerful Labour Māori caucus want it. Her problem is this is the only argument she has.

“This is why ACT has called for a referendum, so we can have meaningful debate and all New Zealanders can have their say.

“No society in history has succeeded by having different political rights based on birth. Many New Zealanders came here to escape class and caste and apartheid.

“All of the good political movements of the past four hundred years have been about ending discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex and sexuality to treat each person with the same dignity. We are the first country in history that’s achieved equal rights and has division as its official policy. It’s nuts.

The Treaty Principles Act would be short but decisive. It would define the Principles of the Treaty as:

  1. All citizens of New Zealand have the same political rights and duties
  2. All political authority comes from the people by democratic means including universal suffrage, regular and free elections with a secret ballot
  3. New Zealand is a multi-ethnic liberal democracy where discrimination based on ethnicity is illegal

“For the avoidance of doubt, these principles prevail over any contradictory enactment by Parliament, or finding on the matter of Treaty Principles by the Courts.

“If a majority of electors voting in a referendum support this Act coming into force, this Act would come into force on date on which the official result of that referendum is declared.

“The effect of the referendum would be to flip the debate on our constitutional future.

“Over the past 40 years, the courts and Waitangi Tribunal have quietly made co-governance our unquestioned and unquestionable destiny.

“ACT says every child born in New Zealand, and everyone legal immigrant, has the same rights. Those are the rights of a citizen. Nobody should get an extra say because of who their great grandparents were. Nobody should have to be treated differently because of who they are.”

ACT has launched a petition that can be found at www.act.org.nz/treaty