The first aim of A Constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand is to start a conversation about New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements.
Most countries don’t discuss their constitutional arrangements, except in times of emergency or crisis.
There’s a better way. The fundamental rules by which New Zealand governs itself should be up for discussion and debate at any time.
Those rules are relevant to every person’s life – including our individual rights and freedoms, the communities and environment we live in, and our ability to learn about and influence the way public power is used.
That conversation can’t take place in a vacuum. It needs to be based on specific proposals, so that people can see what is being discussed and how it might affect their lives.
The book A Constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand makes those proposals. It sets out a codified Constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand, and proposes that the constitution be entrenched as superior law.
To a large degree, the proposed Constitution draws on New Zealand’s current constitutional arrangements, bringing them together into one place so they can be easily understood and discussed. It aims, for example, to preserve existing democratic rights, and the rule of law, and the existing division of powers between Parliament, government, and the judiciary.
Some reforms are also proposed:
- The book proposes that New Zealand become a republic.
- It proposes a four-year Parliamentary term.
- It proposes a range of other reforms designed to enhance government openness, transparency, and integrity.
- It proposes to enhance protection for human rights by including the Bill of Rights in the Constitution, and by adopting new rights, including rights under the Treaty of Waitangi.
Overall, A Constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand aims to provide clarity and certainty about New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements, while also modernising and strengthening those arrangements.
To encourage debate, the first chapter of A Constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand and the full text of the proposed Constitution have been made available for free on the Constitution Aotearoa website.
The proposed Constitution is a first step. In the coming year, the book’s authors will be asking for public views on their proposals. Every two weeks, they’ll be seeking feedback on a particular topic or aspect of their proposed Constitution.
You can sign up here to receive regular emails (about once a fortnight), and to send in your views.
You can also make general submissions through the website.
After listening to public views, the authors will publish a revised edition of A Constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand in 2017.