Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Hickford on Interpreting the Treaty of Waitangi

Mark Hickford, Victoria University of Wellington, Faculty of Law, has posted Interpreting the Treaty: Questions of Native Title, Territorial Government and Searching for Constitutional Histories, in (the provisionally titled) After the Treaty, ed. Richard Hill and B. Patterson:
This essay deals with the various perspectives and interpretations of the Treaty of Waitangi over time. Drawn from a multi-author collection of essays in memory of the scholarship of the historian Ian Wards, the author argues that, whilst we must be mindful of not producing ‘treaty-centric’ histories, it is important not to reduce the historical interpretative complexities of the Treaty. Hickford continues by stating that one must be cautious when assuming the framers’ original intent deserves priority attention in interpretation. Instead we must look more deeply into the texts to embrace the nuances, complexities and frailties within them, including the ways in which they instantiated a number of interpretative communities. It is concluded that whilst the texts lived many lives of interpretation, argument and negotiation, their significance lies in their strength as texts, allowing them to become a lasting focus for political relations, and the development of constitutional histories (even as these material realities of indigenous and colonial co-existence were concealed or masked).