Yesterday, parliament debated the Justices of the Peace Amendment Bill. It's a boring bill, designed to tweak the rules around JPs and ensure better training - but Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples livened it up with this political hand-grenade:
The political link between the Treaty and its guarantees of equity; including the possibility of equal status with other New Zealanders in article three; is as relevant to the training of Justices of the Peace as it is in any other sector of policy.
And it here that we believe the inclusion of an allegiance, albeit a voluntary one, to Te Tiriti o Waitangi will be very helpful in strengthening the capability of Justices of the Peace to be responsive to the unique constitutional context of Aotearoa.
The Maori Party is introducing a Supplementary Order Paper to be discussed with the Oaths Modernisation Bill when it next comes before this House. The amendments would be introduced to include Te Tiriti o Waitangi in all oaths and affirmations.
I support this plan. While purely symbolic - oaths and affirmations of office are not AFAIK enforceable in the courts - the symbolism is powerful and positive. The Treaty is our founding document, the fundamental compact on which our government and society is based, and regardless of whether it is legally enforceable or not, that fact should be recognised.