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Submission to The Constitutional Advisory Panel on New Zealand’s Constitution

(slightly edited)

© Peter Zohrab 2013


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You will see from my letterhead that I have qualifications in Law, Political Science and Philosophy, as well as other subjects (various languages, Linguistics, Computer Science and Psychology). I was a “Mastermind” contestant in (I think) 1989, and my specialist topic was “the Treaty of Waitangi”. However, I did not know very much about that topic, since my first choice of specialist topic was “Human Language”, but Television New Zealand did not let me have that as a topic.


My aspirations for Aotearoa New Zealand

My first aspiration in that regard, is that Maori and English be treated equally. In Maori (I am sure) the country is never called “Aotearoa New Zealand”, but just “Aotearoa”. Therefore, in English it should just be called “New Zealand”.

In fact, in the Treaty of Waitangi it is called “Nu Tirani”, so I find it ironic that the same people who want the Treaty to be implemented in our Constitution, Law and Policies do not use the name which is in the Treaty. However, that is not a vital issue.

I used to believe firmly that Maori should be a compulsory subject from Year 1 to Year 13 of our education system. However, having children who had difficulty choosing their subjects at school made me realize that every extra compulsory subject reduces the choice that students have, in that regard. Nevertheless, I do now submit that Maori should be a compulsory subject from Year 1 to Year 13 of our education system, and that every child should have the opportunity to stay overnight on a marae, as a valuable cultural, mind-broadening experience. Although learning another language also has intellectual and cultural benefits, my main reason for suggesting that is that it would reduce the separatist, racial philosophy which might otherwise remain closely associated with those people who feel motivated to turn away from English as a medium of instruction in favour of the Kohanga Reo etc. system.


How do you want our country to be run in the future?

For many decades, our country has been run by the news media and the education system, and the academic subject of Political Science has been conflicted and remiss in not teaching that fact to students.



Most of the social and political change that has taken place in recent decades is the result of what the education system and news media have seen fit to inculcate in us. The education system and the news media are hierarchical – indeed feudal – institutions, and they have, in effect, subverted democracy. Democratic practice, including the current constitutional review, occurs largely within an information-bubble constructed by the news media and education system.

That needs to change, and the Internet and talkback radio are producing a certain amount of change – but not enough.


Do you think our constitution should be written in a single document? Why?

No. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Secondly, the more our constitution is tied down, the more power it will give to judges, relative to other actors in the constitutional area, to interpret it. I have been to Law School and have investigated the training that has been given to judges (especially in the Institute of Judicial Studies), and my conclusion is that such education and training (wherever socio-political issues are involved) tends to be given by people with political axes to grind, which ends up producing a political bias in the system.




Do you think our constitution should have a higher legal status than other laws (supreme law)? Why?


No, because this would give more power to judges (see answer to previous question).


Who should have the power to decide whether legislation is consistent with the constitution: Parliament or the Courts? Why?

Parliament (see above).


Does the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act protect your rights enough? Why?

No, because people (including judges and lawyers) do not interpret the relevant rights generically. For example, I have just been told by a lawyer (by email) that no judge would consider the White Ribbon Campaign to be discriminatory. He did not explain why he thought that, but that campaign quite clearly targets men’s violence against women, and is silent on women’s violence towards men, so it is ipso facto discriminatory. The lawyer’s attitude is only comprehensible as a product of the information-bubble created by the news media and education system, according to which only men’s violence towards women is common or serious or both, which is completely untrue, see:

http://www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm .

Similarly, the Human Rights Commission does not treat sex discrimination generically , but has tended to view itself as a Women’s Rights organization, because of the nature of the personnel working within it.

Therefore, as a temporary measure, the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act should specifically mention discrimination against men in a separate section.


Do you think the Act should have a higher legal status than other laws (supreme law)? Why?

No, because that would give too much power to judges (see above).


Who should have the power to decide whether legislation is consistent with the Act: Parliament or the Courts? Why?

Parliament, so as to avoid giving too much power to judges (see above).


What additional rights, if any, could be added to the Act? Why?

Men’s Rights (see above). See also manifest.html .


Thinking of the future, what role do you think the Treaty of Waitangi could have in our constitution?

The Treaty of Waitangi should, in an Act of Parliament, be given Constitutional status, by means of sections equivalent to sections 2-7 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. However, that Act should be only in an English version, and should only reflect the text of the English version. The Act should abolish the legal concept of the so-called “Principles” of the Treaty, which were undemocratically invented by the Court of Appeal, and ignored Article 3.


Do you think that the Treaty should be made a formal part of the constitution? Why?

Yes (see above), because it was the basis on which colonial rule was established in New Zealand.

The reason for ignoring the Maori version of the Treaty is that the Maori constitutional terms that it contains were not in current use at that time with those meaning, since the Maoris did not, at that time, have the relevant institutions or political history. Therefore the meaning of the Maori version could not have been fully clear to anyone at that time.

Any Iwis and Hapus which did not sign the Treaty should be given a once-only opportunity to secede from New Zealand and become independent – or as near to independent as they and the Crown could together agree – given that they would probably require “foreign aid” from New Zealand. This is because their incorporation into New Zealand was, in effect, by conquest, rather than by agreement.


How should Maori views be represented in Parliament?

By abolishing the Maori seats.


How could Maori electoral participation be improved?

There is no need for that. Participation in politics is a voluntary matter, and everyone is entitled to believe that they have more important things to do with their time.


How should Maori views and perspectives be represented in local government?

All separate representation of Maoris in local government should be abolished by Act of Parliament, because it is discriminatory and unconstitutional. I was rejected when I once applied for a position at the then Wellington Polytechnic, on the grounds that the Maori department felt that they could not get on with me, and the department in which I would have been working allegedly interacted with the Maori department in some unstated way. The only reason the Maori department could have felt that way about me was because of my political views, so they were actually discriminating against me on political grounds. Separate representation on councils allows Maoris to discriminate against people on racial or political grounds.


Waitangi Day

This is not really a constitutional issue, so Waitangi Day could cease to be New Zealand’s national day, which could be moved to (for example) Anzac Day, or be a new day altogether – e.g. in the middle of winter, when a holiday is seriously needed.

Waitangi Day is used as a protest day by certain groups, which makes it hard for others to celebrate it in a more suitable manner.




Peter Douglas Zohrab

Latest Update

27 July 2015