Dedicated Maori seats and quotas should be scrapped, Gareth Morgan says - but only once the Treaty of Waitangi is properly honoured.
The economist/philanthropist was one of a half dozen speakers invited to a two-day hui last week at Otiria Marae, Moerewa, to discuss the meaning in 2015 and beyond of the Treaty and the earlier Declaration of Independence.
The hui was called in the wake of a ground-breaking Waitangi Tribunal finding that Maori did not cede sovereignty when they signed Te Tiriti 175 years ago on Friday.
The speakers were chosen for their wide range of views. Apart from Mr Morgan, who has just published a book about how he believes New Zealanders should embrace the Treaty, they included historian Paul Moon, lawyer/Maori rights campaigner Annette Sykes, lecturer/indigenous rights expert Valmaine Toki, constitutional expert Moana Jackson and former MP Tukoroirangi Morgan.
Gareth Morgan said New Zealand needed a deliberately designed constitution incorporating the Treaty of Waitangi to replace the current ad hoc, unwritten constitution.
Pakeha had nothing to fear from having the Treaty embedded in the constitution - everyone would gain, he said - but it would be hard to convince wider New Zealand, especially while the "shock jocks" of talkback radio continued to stoke resentment.
The Government was deliberately moving slowly on a written constitution and failing to keep the public informed, he said. The discussion had to involve all New Zealanders rather than being left to "a coterie of lawyers".
Mr Morgan was critical of what he called the "Treaty extensionism" of dedicated Maori wards, seats and quotas. He said they undermined democracy and were a "patronising sop" designed to quell Maori unrest over Treaty breaches and their position in society.
However, he said they were necessary as long as the Treaty was not properly honoured.
He called for compulsory te reo at primary schools and an appointed upper house of Parliament with a 50:50 Maori/non-Maori split.
Like the House of Lords in the UK, it would not have power to make laws but could send "dodgy" legislation back to the lower house.
His vision of Maori self-determination was a country where Maori operated their own public services. It would be like a federal system but everyone would be free to choose the services they used.
One of the objections came from Hokianga academic Patu Hohepa. He wanted to know why Mr Morgan referred to "the Treaty" when the chiefs had signed Te Tiriti, which gave Maori the right to govern themselves and left the Governor-General to rule Pakeha settlers.
Mr Morgan said New Zealand could not make progress if one version of the Treaty was favoured over the other. Instead, he had based his ideas on a "reasonable person's understanding" of the Treaty's four principles.
Mr Morgan plans four speeches around the country. The first was at Ratana Pa; the last will be at Orewa Rotary Club, site of an infamous speech by former National Party leader Don Brash.
"I left that one to last because I'm not expecting to survive it," Mr Morgan quipped.
More than 200 people, including Waitangi Tribunal member Ranginui Walker and Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis, attended the hui organised by Te Kotahitanga o nga Hapu Ngapuhi. Those that could not fit in the wharenui listened outside via loudspeakers.