Ground-Rules: Indigenous Treaties in Canada and New Zealand


Treaties between Indigenous peoples and the Crown in Canada and New Zealand could be seen as vital to each country's creation. If interpreted in their best light they can build each country on principles of cooperation and consent. This perspective would make all people within Canada and New Zealand treaty beneficiaries. To facilitate this view, treaty interpretation should take into account factors beyond their historical genesis. Treaties should be seen as law. They should be interpreted in light of contemporary legal principles which respect Indigenous rights as a part of the rule of law. The alternative to this approach builds Canada and New Zealand on questionable ideas of discovery, occupation, adverse possession and conquest. Treaties provide an alternative access to ideas surrounding national formation and reformation. They can be regarded as among our highest laws and could strengthen and enrich Canada and New Zealand if viewed in this light.

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