Treaty principles should be valued

It just so happens I have been thinking about starting the new year by poking the bear.

Former The Ensign chief reporter, the late Margaret Phillips, often used to say it was not good to poke the bear but I may have a gift for it.

Although to be fair, if she thought the bear needed a prod, she was not shy of doing so herself.

The saying is similar to the one about letting sleeping dogs lie, or not rocking boats and just letting things carry on as they are.

However, sometimes the bear or the dogs, but not the boat, need a jolly good poke with a sharp stick.

In my opinion, many people’s attitude to the Treaty of Waitangi is one example of this.

People seem to be against the Treaty and the changes that result in it becoming more influential in Government decisionmaking.

It is likely, for the first time in our recent history, the mainstream European culture monopoly of power and privilege is under threat and people do not like that.

However, the Treaty is here to stay and we need to figure out what it means to put its principles to work more than 180 years after it was signed.

So at the risk of poking the bear, I would like to confess: I am a great fan of the partnership, protection and participation Treaty principles identified by the 1986 Royal Commission on Social Policy.

The principles seem to me to be the perfect basis for any relationship, whether it is between friends, in a family, at work, in a community or between cultures.

In our relationships we want to partner with people, do not want to see people harmed and we want everyone to be able to enjoy success.

If one group of people is over-represented in the negative statistics of our nation, as Maori are, obviously there is work to do to improve partnership, protection and participation in our midst.

When one group suffers, we all do.

If we could put the Treaty principles into action, I believe our crime and our family violence rates would go down and our nation would be a far safer and prosperous place to live for all our citizens.