Topic: Politics

Call for Treaty to be included in citizenship oath

By Mānia Clarke

The issue of including the Treaty of Waitangi into the country's citizenship ceremony has resurfaced, following an online petition by a group of Māori and migrants, who are calling on the government to include the Treaty in the allegiance oath.

Mexican migrant Ricardo Menendez hopes the allegiance oath he solemnly pledged last year, will one day include the Treaty as follows.

"I swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Tangata Whenua and the Crown, according to law, that I will honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and faithfully observe the laws of New Zealand and fulfil my duties as a New Zealand citizen."

March is part of Change the Oath along with Māori, who have launched an online petition to the Minister of Internal Affairs to have the Treaty included in the oath ceremony (as written above).

“We think that in 2018 there should be recognition of tangata whenua in that oath, and that honouring the Tiriti o Waitangi is actually a really important part of what it means to be a citizen in Aotearoa today,” said Dr Arama Rata of Change the Oath.

 “When I did my citizenship oath to pledge allegiance to the queen. I felt like it was a disingenuous thing to do because I know that this wasn't in accord to what had happened in the history of this country,” said March.

In 2012 a bill that was put in the ballot by Green Party MP, Catherine Delahunty, calling for the citizenship ceremony to include the treaty, wasn't drawn. The Minister of Māori Development says it's time for the issue to be discussed again in Parliament.

“The most important thing is that they have put the issue to those who are able to consider the inclusion of the Treaty of Waitangi into the oath to give effect to what the migrant community want around the country,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

“We hope that now that the Labour government signed a confidence supply agreement with the Green Party, committing themselves to honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi as a founding document, that the new government will be committed to making these changes,” said March.

The oath is a statute and would need to be changed by Parliament. Currently, people can already take the citizenship oath in te reo.

The Minister of Internal Affairs Tracey Martin didn't rule the idea out in her statement to us today, but said it will be interesting to see what support the petition gets.