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Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 32, No. 16. July 16, 1969

Niel Wright asks — Is the Government Legal?

Niel Wright asks
Is the Government Legal?

The question of the legality of the New Zealand Government has been raised before in connection with the 1943 General Election, which took place in circumstances contravening the electoral laws. The Court of Appeal refused to judge that the Government so elected was illegal. In this case the question of illegality arose because of the accident that certain provisions of the law were not observed.

But the legality of the New Zealand Government can be challenged on far more substantial grounds.

Prior to 1839 New Zealand was an independent sovereign national slate. As stated in Te Hokioi Feb.-Mar 1969: "Philimore, Attorney General and an authority in International Law 1848, held that New Zealand (prior to the Treaty) was a sovereign state capable of entering into diplomatic relations with Great Britain, a separate and independent state on a known position and part of the great commonwealth of independent nations."

The British Government prior to 1839 undoubtedly entered into relations with New Zealand on that basis. Again as I'e Hokioi states: "In 1835 His Majesty's Government solemly recognised the independence of the New Zealand tribes and admitted sovereignty rested in the Maori people. They had recognised the confederation of northern tribes conferring on them a flag with Admiralty recognition and had accredited a British Resident and Consul to the Chiefs".

Clearly the British Consul in New Zealand at that time had the same status as the Swedish Consul or the Argentinian Consul have in New Zealand now; he was a diplomatic representative of one country in another country.

The British Government prior to 1839 even admitted that Europeans born in New Zealand at that time were citizens of the autochthonous New Zealand state, Te Hokioi states: Minute from James Stephens to Consul Lieut. Governor Hobson 1839. From the Colonial Office. Downing Street: "After such proceedings it seems preposterous that New Zealand is a possession of the Crown. For such purposes a Consul or Consul-General would be appointed to negotiate with the Chiefs what is in strictness a foreign state, even admiting that children born of European parents in international low are natural born of the New Zealand Maori State."

Since then New Zealand prior to 1839 was an independent, sovereign national stale in international law, it follows that to be legal the present New Zealand Government must be the legal successor stale to that suite, But the present New Zealand Government can be that only if there was a transfer of sovereignty from the autochthonous state by direct or indirect means to the present government.

Was there such a transfer? If it can be shown that there was no such transfer, then the present New Zealand Government must be illegal.

Historian Dr. W. B. Sutch writes (Progress and Poverty in New Zealand, p, 38): "Finally in 1839 Hobson, a naval officer, was sent to try to arrange a transfer of sovereignty from the Maoris."

The putative instrument for this transfer is the Treaty of Waitangi. Quoting again from Te Hokioi: Mr. Justice Johnson in "Notes on Maori Matters" . . . staled: "The Treaty of Wailangi is the only title deed on which the supremacy of the British Crown is based."

This being the case it follows that the legality of the present New Zealand Government as the assignee of the supremacy of the British Crown in New Zealand stands or falls on the status of the Treaty of Waitangi. If the Treaty of Waitangi is not a legal document recognised under International Law, then the present New Zealand Government is illegal.

What then is the legal standing of the Treaty of Waitangi? Dr. W. B. Sutch (The Quest for Security in New Zealand, p. 39) says of the Treaty of Waitangi: "In the fifties and sixties (of the 19th century) the attorney-generals at all, and in fact 'a simple nullity'."

The action of the then New Zealand regime bears out this view of the Treaty. Again Sutch (op. cit. p. 35): "In 1862 the Crown ignored the Treaty of Waitangi . . ."

It is clear then that the European regime in New Zealand does not accord legal status to the Treaty of Waitangi. But the necessary consequence is that the present New Zealand government is illegal.

There can be no escape from this conclusion. If the Treaty is legal, then the New Zealand courts that declared the Treaty a simple nullity are legal. Their judgment then is definitive as to the status of the Treaty. If the Treaty is not legal, those courts would have been illegal, and so their judgment would be void: but in that case the Treaty is Mill null. So on either argument the Treaty of Waitangi has no legal status.

It follows then that there never was any transfer of sovereignly from the autochthonous New Zealand state. It follows likewise that alt born New Zealanders, both Maori and European in race, are currently citizens of that autochthonous New Zealand Stale. It follows too that the sovereignly of New Zealand still rests in the citizens of that autochthonous state, and it is an undeniable fact that that sovereignty has never been conveyed by the legal procedures of that autochthonous slate into the hands of the present governing regime in New Zealand.

It follows then that the present New Zealand Government is a usurpation of rule in New Zealand. There is considerable evidence indeed that it is a puppet regime kept in power by overseas interests.