Treaty Debates Series 2008 – Finding common ground 

Dr Matthew Palmer (left) and Professor Mason Durie (right)

The 2008 Treaty Debates aim to provide a fresh way of looking at the Treaty and its role in our history, focusing on the way in which we can find common ground in an area of national discussion which is often riven with conflict.

The debates were first held in 2005 and make a notable contribution to national discussions about the treaty. The speakers this year will consider areas of common ground in this often contentious arena of debate. In the role of Chair will be Dr Claudia Orange of Te Papa and Claudia Geiringer of Victoria University’s NZ Centre for Public Law.

31 January – M. Durie and M. Palmer

Professor Mason Durie (Professor of Maori Research and Development & Deputy Vice-Chancellor Maori at Massey University) considers that the Treaty has become embedded in the life of the nation, contributing to a spectacular transformation of our society in recent decades. He also argues that it has assumed the role of reflecting how New Zealand values its indigenous people and their participation in society.

Dr Matthew Palmer (former Dean of Victoria University of Wellington’s Law School and 2005 International Research Fellow of the New Zealand Law Foundation) puts forward the case that as uncertainty is inherent in the meaning of the Treaty of Waitangi, it would be worth stabilizing its legal and constitutional place by giving its principles the status of ordinary law for the future, judged by ordinary courts.

Watch the debate (streaming)
Download the video (MP4)
Listen to the debate on Radio NZ's website

7 February – J. de Bres and C. Royal

Dr Charles Royal sets out a provocative argument that in the future, all New Zealanders will be able to define themselves as tangata whenua.

Race relations commissioner Joris De Bres explores why race relations are of less concern than they were a few years ago, and lays out the detail of a statement – which his office was then about to issue – defining a set of core positions on indigeneity and cultural diversity.

Watch the debate (streaming)
Download the video (MP4)
Listen to the debate on Radio NZ's website