National | Constitution

Designing a constitution for Aotearoa

A two-day conference is being held at Auckland University this week in memory of Dr Moana Jackson, to discuss the state of Aotearoa and the potential building of a constitution that is inclusive of all in Aotearoa.

The hui follows the work of the Matike Mai Aotearoa, a report and group led by Professor Margaret Mutu (Ngāti Kahu, Te Rarawa, Ngāti Whātua) and the late academic of Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Porou.

The conference looks to the future of Māoridom, designing a constitution that recognises and implements tikanga to fulfill Jackson’s e ambition.

Te Aupōuri and Ngāpuhi descendant Eru Kapa-Kingi, who is also a keynote speaker at the conference says the rights of Māori deserve a place in society.

“Kia ita anō ko te mana māori, kia ita anō ko ngā tikanga māori, he haere tahi ērā mea, nō reira koia te matua o tēnei kaupapa.”

(To reaffirm Māori authority, to reaffirm Māori customary law, they go hand in hand - that is the purpose of this conference.)

Veteran Māori rights activists

During this gathering, both old and new faces of Māori activism are there.

Constitution expert Mutu says documents like He [W]hakaputanga need to remain at the forefront of constitution discussion.

“Koia nei te kōrero o te [W]hakaputanga a ngā mātua tūpuna i aua rā, me te kī atu, ko tēnei whenua, nō te iwi Māori. Mēnā ka haramai koe ki tēnei motu, kua haramai koe ki tētahi motu Māori.”

(This is the discourse of He [W]hakaputanga from our ancestors in their time, to articulate that this land belongs to Māori. If you are to come to this country, you are coming to a Māori country.)

Government perspective

Green Party members and MPs were gathering information to take back to the Beehive.

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson (Ngāti Porou, Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi) says their attendance to the conference is vital in furthering the inter-relationships between Māori and tangata tiriti.

“Me noho ki te whakarongo ki ngā tāngata matatau i tēnei momo mahi, ki ngā rangatira, ngā kaiārahi o tēnei momo mahi. Ki te whakarongo, ā, ki te kawe i ngā reo, ngā moemoeā o te whānau, o te iwi māori ki roto i te whare paremata.”

(We need to sit and listen to the experts in this domain, to the authority’s, to the leaders of this field of work. To listen and take the voices and aspirations of whānau, of Māori back to Parliament.)

Veteran Māori activist Mike Smith (Ngāti Kahu, Ngāpuhi) was also in attendance and he says seeing rangatahi stand up for their rights is a sight to behold.

“The kids that were 10 years old when we were doing our activism couldn’t come along, they couldn’t participate but, 10 years later they’re not 10 anymore, they’re 20. So they want in on the action and they want to join the movement, so that’s really encouraging.”

“Ehara mā māua e mahi tēnei mahi engari mā ngā rangatahi [hoki]. Inaiānei, kua kitea ngā hua e puta mai ana i taua whakaaro. I taua wā, kua tukuna atu ngā rangatahi ki te kōrero ki ngā rangatahi, he ātaahua, aua kōrero ki ngā rangatahi. Rerekē ngā āhuatanga o ngā kōrero o māua ko Moana. Engari ināianei kei kōnei ngā rangatahi e tū atu ana me te kī atu, mā mātou tēnei mahi, he mahi tika ana tēnā.”

(This work isn’t just for us [Moana & I] to do, but for our youth [as well]. Now we are seeing the benefits of that concept. In the past, we sent the youth to talk to each other, and it was beautiful. It was beautiful what the youth had to say. Completely different in nature to what Moana and I talked about. Now the younger ones are here and standing up to say ‘We can do this’. It’s just awesome.) Mutu says.