OK, So What DO You Think Minister? It Is Very Important

April 20, 2024

Our response to the Attorney-General’s refusal to supply us the arguments Nanaia Mahuta claimed to rely on.

We wrote on 29 February celebrating the repeal of Three Waters.  We also copied our letter to the Attorney-General, Judith Collins, asking for the Crown Law advice we’d asked for in our discontinued court case. We acknowledged the high bar to release legal advice but Minister Mahuta had in our opinion waived confidentiality by referring to it to persuade the public to accept her co-governance scheme.

Shortly after that email went out we received a brief letter from the Attorney General, refusing disclosure. This was disappointing but not surprising. Officials would have told her it would be a bad precedent to release Crown Law advice.  Maybe especially because it could be damning of the quality of advice on Treaty matters.

Nevertheless, the unhelpful response is worrying. The new government needs to be much more open about Treaty matters.  Their coalition agreement demands it.

So we’ve now asked the Attorney-General what her government sees as being left of the assumption that all New Zealanders are equal before the law, with Treaty rights being a matter between the Crown and iwi, unable to damage private property rights. Does the current government consider the treaty gives powers over other people's property to mana whenua? If not, why do they get appointments, without election, to planning bodies? New Zealanders may not be allowed to know the legal arguments and theories the previous government were advancing, but we deserve to know what our current government thinks.

Click here to read our latest letter to Attorney-General Judith Collins, seeking the new government’s position on their treaty obligations

What Treaty interpretation prevails now?  This question goes to the heart of our democracy and constitution.  The public have a right to know.

If the government digs in to hide what they are being told by Treaty-centric Wellington officials we’ll press Deputy Prime Minister Peters, and future Deputy Prime Minister Seymour to find out and to tell us.


Chris Milne

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