IN COMMITTEE Personal and Constitutional

Last month I wrote about the Inquiry into New Zealand’s Constitutional Arrangements and, as result, I have had an unprecedented number of people ask me how they can make submission. Well, in this case, it is surprisingly easy. The Committee has had draft list drawn up of what might be considered our country’s “constitutional milestones”. Now it’s inviting you to argue the toss. Spend couple of minutes casting your eye down the list. Do you agree these the milestones thus far? Or do you think some of them are dubious candidates or even downright irrelevant? Do you have some others in mind?
You may think our first elected Parliament, which gathered in Auckland in 1854, was of some relevance even though the authors apparently do not. Nor do the events of Gallipoli that allegedly “forged our nation” get look in – making way, no doubt for last year’s Crown Entities Act 2004 which may well have passed you by.
If you disagree, well here’s your chance to let rip. Just find http://www.constitutional.parliament.govt.nz/ on the net, go to “Have Your Say”, and scroll down to the bottom of the page where you’ll find submission form. Tell them who you are and what you think (4000 characters maximum), then click to submit.
There, you have just made your first select committee submission and it didn’t hurt bit.

1835 * Declaration of Independence
1840 * Treaty of Waitangi * British sovereignty asserted * Maori control of own resources and people affirmed * Colonial government established
1841 * New Zealand separated from the colony of New South Wales and proclaimed separate colony * First courts of law established
1846 * First Resident Magistrates’ Courts established * First Constitution Act passed by UK Parliament but suspended at Governor Grey’s request
1852 * New Zealand Constitution Act passed by UK Parliament * Representative government established
1856 * Responsible government established
1858 * First Maori King appointed – the Kingitanga movement’s objectives were to resist the alienation of Maori land and to assert Maori authority
1860 * Kohimarama Conference * Taranaki War begins
1862 * The Court of Appeal of New Zealand established
1863 * Waikato War begins
1867 * Separate Maori representation established through the creation of four Maori seats in Parliament
1875 * Provincial government abolished
1876 * Kotahitanga hui
1877 * Treaty of Waitangi dismissed as “simple nullity”
1879 * Adult male franchise for elections to the House of Representatives introduced
1882 * Northern Chiefs petition Queen Victoria to investigate colonial government and establish Maori parliament
1892 * Governor instructed to act on the advice of his responsible Ministers when Imperial interests not affected * Establishment of Kotahitanga mo te Tiriti o Waitangi * Opening of Maori parliament in Heretaunga * Kingitanga parliament (Te Kauhanganui) established
1893 * Universal adult franchise introduced with extension of vote to women
1900 * Maori Councils Act
1901 * New Zealand refused to join Australia as its seventh state
1907 * Dominion status acquired to mark New Zealand’s autonomous status in domestic affairs
1917 * New Letters Patent issued re-designating the Governor the Governor-General of New Zealand in recognition of New Zealand’s self-governing status
1926 * Balfour Declaration adopted at the Imperial Conference
1941 * The Privy Council declares that the Treaty of Waitangi is not enforceable in the courts except to the extent it is incorporated into legislation
1945 * New Zealand admitted to the United Nations
1947 * Full constituent powers acquired * Magistrates Courts’ reconstituted
1948 * Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly
1950 * Legislative Council abolished
1962 * Office of the Ombudsman established
1971 * Office of Race Relations Conciliator established by the Race Relations Act 1971
1972 • Judicature Amendment Act 1972 liberalised the procedures for seeking judicial review of administrative actions
1973 • New Zealand’s original powers of legislation replaced by new powers that gave Parliament additional extraterritorial competence
1974 • Reference in Queen Elizabeth’s title to ‘Queen of the United Kingdom’ omitted to reflect the Sovereign’s constitutional status as Head of State of New Zealand
1975 • Waitangi Tribunal established
1977 • Human Rights Commission established by Human Rights Act 1977
1978 • New Zealand ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) • New Zealand ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
1982 • Citizens’ access to official information promoted in Official Information Act 1982
1983 • Office of the Governor-General of New Zealand patriated • New Zealand Australia Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement signed
1985 • Waitangi Tribunal given retrospective power to consider alleged past breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi since 1840
1986 • Some of New Zealand’s statutory constitutional law consolidated and reformed • Reform of the public sector in order to promote accountability and efficiency in government administration. This process began with the State-Owned Enterprises Act 1986 and continued with: • State Sector Act 1988 • Public Finance Act 1989 • Reserve Bank Act 1989 • Fiscal Responsibility Act 1994 • The State-Owned Enterprises Act passed including provision giving statutory force to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi for the first time
1987 • In the Lands case, the Court of Appeal interprets the expression ‘principles of the Treaty of Waitangi’ in the State-Owned Enterprises Act 1986
1988 • Maori Language Act
1990 • New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 enacted
1993 • Direct democracy promoted through citizens initiated referenda • Binding referendum on proportional representation brought into effect the MMP electoral system • Privacy Act 1993 passed • Grounds of discrimination extended under the Human Rights Act 1993
1995 • Hirangi Hui rejected fiscal envelope proposals and promoted constitutional change reflecting Te Tiriti o Waitangi
1996 • Proportional representation under MMP introduced
2001 • Public Audit Act 2001 reformed office of Auditor-General
2003 • Supreme Court established as the court of final appeal
2004 • Crown Entities Act 2004 reformed accountability regime for Crown entities.

Julie Collier is editor and publisher of Select Committee News.

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