New Zealand Law Society - Treaty of Waitangi Guidance for government policy makers

Treaty of Waitangi Guidance for government policy makers

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The Cabinet Office has released a circular which sets out guidelines agreed by Cabinet for policy-makers to consider the Treaty of Waitangi in policy development and implementation.

It notes that since the government last provided broad Treaty guidance to the public service in 1989 over 70 Treaty settlements have been negotiated between Māori and the Crown.

"The courts have recognised tikanga Māori as part of New Zealand common law and as a value that informs development of the common law. While their precise impact on the common law and statute will vary, rights at tikanga may have a relevance in legal disputes independent of statutory incorporation of the Treaty."

The circular says that while the courts and previous guidance have developed and focused on principles of the Treaty, the new guidance takes the texts of the Treaty as its focus.

"Answering the questions in this circular will allow policy makers to demonstrate an appreciation of kawanatanga, rangatiratanga and other key Treaty concepts and their applicability to their work."

The circular also includes two appendices, one giving a glossary of terms and definitions, and the other a table headed "Treaty of Waitangi guidance at a glance".