Media releases, reviews, columns and other news about A Constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand

7 April 2017 – In this landmark interview with Radio NZ’s Guyon Espiner, Sir Geoffrey Palmer discusses his time as prime minister and explains why New Zealand needed to change when the fourth Labour government was elected in the 1980s.

The case for a new constitution

25 September 2016 – Sir Geoffrey Palmer and Dr Andrew Butler discuss how New Zealand would benefit from a written, codified constitution.

2 March 2017 – Without clear rules of government, fundamental rights have little protection.


Other news

Has the post-US TPP already been okayed by Parliament? No, it hasn’t
The Spinoff

23 May – Prime Minister Bill English’s view that the latest incarnation of the Trans Pacific Partnership needs no Parliamentary examination is ‘constitutionally wrong’, says lawyer Andrew Geddis.


The unaccountability of elites
National Business Review

23 May – Mistakes by those in authority can lead to disasters and misfortunes, yet there is often a worrying lack of consequences or accountability for the authorities involved, writes political scientist Bryce Edwards.


How governments keep the lid on ineptitude

19 May – The government’s media gags on government-funded organisations are overriding the public’s right to know, says journalist Jim Tucker.


Accountability the price of keeping the system honest

19 May – Accountability is frequently talked about but rarely practised in New Zealand politics, writes Karl du Fresne.


NZ democracy and its discontent
National Business Review

19 May – In the lead-up to this year’s election there are plenty of signs of discontent with the state of NZ’s democracy, and some colourful debate, says political scientist Bryce Edwards.


More direct democracy better than compulsory voting

12 May – Voting is only one aspect of a healthy democracy. New Zealand needs need ways for citizens to play a more active role in shaping the laws and policies they are subject to, political scientists Emily Beausoleil and Max Rashbrooke.


Democracy means more than having a vote every 3 years

10 May – The public should have a say in political decision-making all of the time, not just between elections, argues Dr Nicholas Ross Smith.


US Professor Neil Siegel discusses constitutional law
NZ Law Society

10 May – Professor Neil Siegel of Duke Law School, who is visiting New Zealand to give the 2017 Borrin lecture at Victoria university on constitutional law and norms in the current US political climate. Here, he speaks with Justice David Collins of the High Court and Cate Honoré Brett of the NZ Law Society.


Information overload: we’re all mushrooms now

9 May – Kept in the dark and fed misinformation, it’s difficult even for engaged citizens to make sense of NZ’s public and political life, writes Graham Adams.


Trump’s disdain for constitutional norms not just bad policy

9 May – Trump’s flouting of constitutional checks and balances is the most worrying aspect of his troubled presidency, writes Duke University Professor of Law Neil Siegel.


Govt accused of ‘sneaky attack’ on environment
NZ Herald

9 May – New freshwater policy puts economic development before environmental values, according to legal advice from Sir Geoffrey Palmer.


Treaty inexorably becoming part of NZ’s constitution

7 May – Te Tiriti o Waitangi is slowly but surely becoming part of New Zealand’s constitution, says journalist Andrew Robb.


What election? Who’s seen the politicians?

3 May – The real election issues are starved of attention because of once-over-sound-bite-politics-are-so-uncool magazine-style media coverage, says TV critic Jane Bowron.


Lack of constitution leaves politics ‘directionless’

5 May – The lack of a written constitution means New Zealand has no shared starting point for discussions about values-based politics, says legal scholar Max Harris.


PM’s job description ‘not written down’: Helen Clark
Radio New Zealand

5 May – The lack of a written constitution means the prime minister’s powers are unwritten and unclear, says former PM Helen Clark.


Sustaining democracy can be difficult, says Don McKinnon
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association

4 May – Establishing a democracy is easy but sustaining it through difficult times is a challenge, says former Commonwealth Secretary General Sir Don McKinnon ONZ.


A Judge’s view of the rule of law

3 May – Chief Justice Sian Elias discusses the tension between the rule of law and the sovereignty of Parliament. Also see this speech by Lord Judge, former Chief Justice of the United Kingdom.


Press freedom stifled by cynical use of OIA Judge’s view of the rule of law

2 May – New Zealand drops eight places in Reporters Without Borders’ annual press freedom report, with the Government’s misuse of the Official Information Act obstructing journalists and proposed new laws gagging whistleblowers.


Voting under attack as election approaches

27 April – Democracy can work, but only if people work at it – by turning out to vote – argues political scientist Jack Vowles.


How to drive voting and policy debate this election… and how not to

25 April – It would be great to see debate about issues at this year’s election, instead of superficiality and sensationalism, says former National MP Wyatt Creech.


Former PM Mike Moore calls for compulsory voting

8 April – Former PM Mike Moore supports call for compulsory voting.


Democracy ‘in crisis’: Palmer calls for compulsory voting
NZ Herald

7 April – New Zealand should follow Australia’s lead and make voting compulsory, says former PM Sir Geoffrey Palmer.


Palmer calls for compulsory voting, says democracy ‘in crisis’

7 April 2017 – New Zealand should adopt Australian rules and make it illegal not to vote, former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer says.


The reformer – Geoffrey Palmer as PM
Radio New Zealand

7 April – Former PM Sir Geoffrey Palmer reflects on his time in office.


Free speech under threat in NZ universities

4 April 2017 –A group of 27 high-profile New Zealanders has penned an open letter warning freedom of speech is under threat in the country’s universities.


What a constitution would mean for the NZ public service

April 2017 – Miriam Bookman of the law firm Russell McVeagh reviews our proposals and considers the implications for New Zealand’s public service – including its independence and ability to give free and frank advice.


NZ should raise the bar on corruption
NZ Herald

5 March – New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements lack the checks and balances of other democratic countries, says former Parliamentary staffer Grant McLachlan.


NZ Constitution is an excellent idea

5 March 2017 – NZers’ security and personal freedoms are not adequately protected and could be removed by Government at any time, writes Tom O’Connor of


Constitution essential if New Zealand is to avoid Trump-style fallout

2 March 2017 – Without clear rules of government, fundamental rights have little protection against political whim, Sir Geoffrey Palmer argues in a public meeting in Hamilton.


Trump shows we need a proper constitution
NZ Herald

2 March 2017 – The United States’ experience under Donald Trump brings into sharp focus the question of how New Zealand safeguards its democracy and hard-won rights and freedoms, writes constitutional lawyer Susanne Ruthven.


Cross-examination: A Constitution for Aotearoa NZ

Jade du Preez of the Equal Justice Project blogs on our proposed Constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand, including the role of the Treaty and the response of the business lobby.


People don’t care about a NZ constitution? That’s not what we’re finding…

6 March 2017 – While some may believe New Zealanders don’t care about their constitutional arrangements, feedback about A Constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand proves that wrong, writes Sir Geoffrey Palmer.


US turmoil under Trump shows need for constitutional checks

20 February – The turmoil being witnessed in America at least illustrates the necessity of constitutional checks. It should spur New Zealand to adopt its own written, codified constitution, writes former prime minister Geoffrey Palmer.


Law Society recommends changes to Parliament’s rules
Media release

16 Feb – The New Zealand Law Society recommends that Parliament consider changes to its procedures and rules to ensure better public engagement and to enhance the quality of proposed legislation.


Opportunities Party supports written constitution
Media release

13 Feb –  The Opportunities Party has released its ‘Democracy Reset’ policy, recommending a written constitution and an upper house among other measures to restore participation and confidence in NZ’s democracy.


Greens co-leader supports written constitution
Media release

7 Feb – Greens co-leader James Shaw has called for New Zealand to adopt a written constitution ‘to make the Government fulfil its responsibilities on climate change, human rights and a host of other things’.


Greens co-leader supports written constitution
Media release

7 Feb – Greens co-leader James Shaw has called for New Zealand to adopt a written constitution ‘to make the Government fulfil its responsibilities on climate change, human rights and a host of other things’.


Sir Taihakurei Durie on the Treaty in NZ’s constitution
E Tangata

5 Feb – The Treaty of Waitangi and tikanga Māori are partially recognised in New Zealand law, but there’s still more work to be done, says New Zealand Māori Council chair and former High Court judge and Waitangi Tribunal chair Sir Taihakurei Durie.


Executive power linked to declining voter turnout
Radio New Zealand

16 Jan – The government’s power to control public debate is a significant factor in declining voter turnout, according to a group of Victoria University academics.