My oath! What would Her Majesty make of this?

Te Ururoa Flavell

What some see as another bid by the Maori party to take New Zealand down the road of racial separatism has been rebuffed in Parliament.

Te Ururoa Flavell’s private member’s bill allowing people to pledge to uphold the Treaty of Waitangi when making legal oaths was thrown out by 69 votes to 52.

National, ACT, United Future and New Zealand First all voted against it.

According to Mr Flavell, the bill “is just part of the big jigsaw about recognition of the Treaty” and he says he’s “hugely disappointed” that it was rejected.

But New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, for one, is not shedding any tears, earlier describing it as “a separatist idea”.

“This country has no future if we are going to head down that separatist path as we are doing right now,” he says.

His remarks prompted a swift rejoinder from Mana party leader Hone Harawira, who says: “So what does he want? English separatism? Is that what he wants?

“England is somewhere else, the Queen is somewhere else. We should show allegiance to the people of this land and the Treaty of Waitangi.”

Mr Harawira was ejected from Parliament by the Speaker Lockwood Smith last year for pledging allegiance to the Treaty instead of making the formal oath to the Queen.

It was not the first time he and other MPs had crossed swords with the Speaker by referring to the Treaty in their oaths.

In 2005 all four Maori Party MPs – Peter Sharples, Te Ururoa Flavell, Tariana Turia and Mr Harawira, who was then a member – were made to repeat their oaths without mentioning the Treaty.

Three years later Green MPs Catherine Delahunty and Kevin Hague also referred to the Treaty in their oaths and were forced to repeat them correctly.

Mr Hague later said if he was re-elected he had “every intention” of doing the same thing again.

“For an oath to be meaningful it needs to be meaningful to the person giving the oath. (Might then Mr Hague, a gay, be expected to make his oath on a gaudy gay rainbow flag or a red shirt?)

“What MPs in New Zealand should be swearing allegiance to is to New Zealand and it is appropriate to include allegiance to the Treaty in that,” he says.

All of which prompted Mr Flavell’s private member’s bill, which was drawn from a ballot at Parliament.

Despite being opposed by the National party there was some dissension within its ranks.

Tau Henare told Parliament he supported “totally the thoughts, emotions of what my colleague (Te Ururoa Flavell) has put before the House”.

He said it was an opportunity to “set New Zealand apart from other colonised nations around the world”.

But despite such sentiments Mr Henare was forced to vote against the bill as it was a party vote.

New Zealand First MP Denis O’Rourke, who is a lawyer specialising in legal drafting, described the bill as a “political stunt” and said it was not appropriate to refer to the Treaty in legal oaths.

As he delivered his speech he was taken to task by several unidentified MPs for allegedly mispronouncing the word “Waitangi”.

For their benefit he then repeated it, pronouncing it just as he had done before.

At present the parliamentary swearing-in oath reads: “I swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth 11, her heirs and successors, according to law, so help me God.”

If Mr Flavell’s bill had passed, MPs would have been able to add: “I will uphold the Treaty of Waitangi.”

The last time the oath was changed was back in 2004 when it gave MPs the option of giving the oath in Maori or English.

rvaughan@nbr.co.nz

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34 Comments & Questions

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We've ALL had a gutsful of these Maori MPs pulling their stunts. Obsessive, Greedy, Selfish. Enough of these grandstanding fools.

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Spot on! Greedy, obsessive, grand-standing Scaramouch 's is what they are. Playing the "down-trodden" Maori act to take all they can.

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The current oath is not meaningful either. We swear allegiance to Her Majesty and her heirs. The Queen has no meaning to us.- Just a meaningless figure head. Her heir to whom I have no respect. committed adultery when his wife was alive and then married his concubine after death of his wife. So we are to swear allegiance to a adulterer because he is the heir to a non existent thrown of New Zealand. It is time New Zealand became a republic and changed the oath and the flag. I am not willing to comment on the Wording for the Oath.

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Text-book insecure republican rejoinder.

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I agree we should become a republic, then we do not have to abide by the agreement between the treaty and the crown. We can ignore both and make our own rules and regulations for NEW ZEALANDERS and this country as One Nation.

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We cant get things right at the moment, what makes you think it would be better later on?

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Swear an oath to the Treaty of Waitangi? The bloody thing should be shredded and burnt - not upholded like it means anything other than an excuse for hardworkers to be mugged by bludgers.

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I find it more offensive that God is included in the oath.

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The Queen may not have a current meaning to us, but we carry her image on our currency and our system of justice.
To ignore the parts of history we do not like, and criticise others for doing the same, is foolish and separatist. Our country will achieve nothing by arguing with itself.
The symbols of our country are from our roots, the treaty was signed between the Queen and the people of New Zealand, the national anthem and the flag are our history, and if we choose to change our history, we can have no future together.

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The most lucid point made in regards to the article.

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There is no future betweem Kirima and Maori-- get it on and get it over with

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"So help me God"? Poor atheists, having to swear to some imaginary being.

What's seperatists about this idea? Anyone, Maori, Pakeha, Asian, Pacific Islander, African, Indian, could choose to swear to uphold the treaty, if the treaty is more meaningful to them than the Queen and her family. Given people such as Hone Harawira would rather spit on the Queen than pledge allegience to her I'm far more inclined to trust an oath he swears by the treaty than an oath he is forced to swear by the Queen.

Funny that the so called parties of individual freedom are the ones who voted against the freedom for people to chose the manner in which their oaths are made. It seems Act really aren't true liberals at all.

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WIth all the troubels we undoubtedly have, it does seem this is simply a non issue.

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get a life,

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Switching to a republic would start to solve this petty bickering, it may well be too early for it now. But we could start with changing the flag to the fern (pref with no AIG on it). Its fine for Canada and will be fine for us once the alarmists cool down. This would be the start of the step which leads in the right direction.

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A republic is a solution to nothing, nor is changing the flag. Neither address real issues. One of which is whether New Zealand continues down the track of racial separatism (apartheid) and favouritism.

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They are both symbolic of accepting injustices were rife throughout history and moving on as one under a flag that represents us all. The contract is with the crown and a republic removes the crown from the equation. It has everything to do with it? I fail to see how you cant see that.

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I'm not sure what Mr. Harawira means - surely the Queen has everything to do with it.

The Treaty of Waitangi is directly between Maori and Queen Victoria and her heirs and successors.

People may assume it means something else but it doesn't actually say that.

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I agree with most of what Harawira says - "“England is somewhere else, the Queen is somewhere else. We should show allegiance to the people of this land and the Treaty of Waitangi.”

But the Treaty of Waitangi is only a part of what makes up this land. The oath should be a more generic show of allegiance to New Zealand.

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So the Maori party don't want to pledge an oath to the Queen, they would rather pledge an oath a contract between Maori and the Queen. How do you swear allegiance to a treaty whose main reason for existing was to itself gain allegiance to the Queen? And how to you pledge to uphold the "principles" of a treaty when they differ between the English and Maori? Its absolutely true that NZ needs to be a republic, but it need to do so by stating what the principles and values of New Zealand are. Otherwise it will just continue it's descent into confusion and irrelevancy as unemployment creeps up and standard of living drifts down...

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to be fair it should have been done along time ago. good work maori party.

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What a load of rubbish

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The Treaty is generally considered to be between the British and the Maori. There are plenty of other ethnicities here now they aren't mentioned at all. The idea of the Treaty is outdated, it needs to be laid aside and allowed to become part of history. There is no country on earth that is inhabited solely by it's original inhabitants. A republic is fine but the treaty needs to be rewritten at the very least.

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If MPs were able to say 'I will uphold the Treaty of Waitangi', what would change in terms of their outputs, behaviour and leadership? Would this enable anything to occur that is currently unable to occur? What would be the agreed actions required of anyone suffixing the Oath of Allegiance with such a statement? Could someone present the intent, purpose and authority of the current Oath of Allegiance and the intent of the proposed suffix for purposes of comparison and a quick constitutional check for 'best fit'? The idea seems pretty fluffy to me without having done this. Or have they? If its going to be changed, then could I suggest we come up with something that leaves the present Oath for dead in terms of its mana and power to inspire all of our MPs to work with zeal, devotion and yes, integrity, for all NZers. When you notice one day that you've had to repeatedly clean pig droppings from your car roof or windscreen, then you will know that day has come.

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I have an inkling that South Africa (ironically, the source of much of this 'reverse apartheid' nonsense, methinks?) used the device of declaring itself a republic to cut its links with Britain and all that had gone before, and effectively turned itself into the equivalent of a limited company.
Since the 'victims' are looking at repulsive apartheid for their guidance, perhaps we should look to the same source to wipe the slate clean, starting with which ever (and all) versions of the ruddy Treaty a make NZ and NZers the focus of everything. And there, there is no better example than the US of A.

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why don't we go republic and because the treaty was with the English royals the treaty would have no claim to make on the people of NZ. Bye bye treaty

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Burn the Treaty so we can get off the gravy train once and for all.

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"(Might then Mr Hague, a gay, be expected to make his oath on a gaudy gay rainbow flag or a red shirt?)"

Referring to someone as "a gay"? This whole quote is very problematic and othering especially given the context. Examine your language and attitude Mr Vaughan, at the moment it is outdated and fairly homophobic.

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Obviously the treaty favours Maori. Thats why they can spend so much time grabbing more than they deserve. I agree that a republic has to be the future- the sooner the better. We are being unfairly fleesed by this stoneage treaty document. It is only used to always further maori
interests at the expense of us all. I believe the maori party is mostly about
jobs for the families of the elected maori representitives.
How about a white man All Black rugby team. These claims are now rediculous. Was supposed to have been done and dusted years ago. Broken promises by weak goverments have been our undoing.

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Maori have a king , don,t they?

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What a load of garbage.
The Bill was simply giving Members of Parliament a choice, rather than be dictated to by an out-of-date parliamentary system based on out-of-touch principles of governance.
And for every single one of you commenting on the Treaty is rubbish and/or should be burnt, remember it was your 'government'/administration of the day that created it, begged for it to be signed by the natives, and then dishonoured after the fact. If you want it gone that badly then create a petition and have NZers sign it. Because when it becomes void, every single thing that took place under it can be reversed such as the legislation that was written to strip land away from native land holders.
Coffee sippers need to wake up and smell it, or keep burying your heads in the sand.

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The treaty was initial means of getting the majority of the chiefs (540) to give up their territories to Queen Victoria so Queen Victoria could form a legal Government under British Sovereignty. Queen Victoria and Her Heirs then became our head of State from then on. The Minister must swear their alliance to the head of state, not a document that did what it was intended to do in 1840.

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But the Treaty enabled the Crown to govern Ian. Otherwise how did the Brits acquire sovereignty? They didn't do it by force.

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I think a more important topic is starting a discussion on a constitution. A republic is fine, but you're only replacing the head of state. We need to get into more nitty gritty elements, such what type of system we want, and the checks and balances of that system.

I agree with Hone. We have a British system. We need to have a system that incorporates different cultures and other groups, without resorting to separatism.

In the end though I would've voted for this bill just to get rid of swearing to the Queen. I think that swearing to a constitution is better.

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