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11 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back

What is a constitution?

1. Blue print for orderly - and of many countries, restrained and democratic - government

- Lays out the functions of the various political centurions, the relationship between them and the distribution of power.

2. Map charting the nation’s political history, values and properties

- Concerned with the elaboration on the nature of the political culture and the rights and responsibilities of individuals (may include BORA)

Elements of a constitution may include

- Rules of the political system

- Cultural and political values

- Political rights

- Economic rights

- Individual liberties

What makes up our constitution?

- Statutes (45)

- International treaties (12)

- Conventions (8)

- ToW

- Common law

Treaty of Waitangi

Maori version:

1. Governorship (kawanatanga) granted to Victoria (not sovereignty)

2. Chieftainship (tino rangatiratanga) over land, villages and treasures guaranteed

3. Maori granted full rights as British subjects


Ordinary law (passed by simple majority)

- Constitution Act 1986

- BORA 1991

- Electoral Act 1993

- Supreme Court Act 2004

Common law

Tow - principles

Foreshore and Seabed 2004 replaced by Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 (incapable of owning foreshore and seabed)


Rules that regulate and control the democratic system, giving it legitimacy, order and structure.

Main rules of our system of government

- Parliament is ‘sovereign’ or supreme

- Parliament can pass any laws

- Courts cannot declare acts of Parliament invalid

- Parliament cannot bid its successors

Arguments for a written constitution

- Signpost to a country’s national identity and sovereignty

- Makes for more orderly government

- Divides and limits powers

- Educative value

- If accompanied by an entrench BOR, protects individual and minority rights

- Almost all other countries have one (reckless not to have one)

Arguments against a written constitution

- Gives excessive power to unelected judges

- Locks in future generations

- Constitution alone can’t prevent distortions in the use or abuse of power

- Where is the mandate?

- Problem of reaching consensus (likely to be a vacuous document)

- If it ain’t broke don’t fix it

Options include

1. ‘One Nation’ majoritarianism (We are one country and we shouldn’t worry about ethnicity (Don Brash view))

2. Pakeha/Maori partnership (Some argue this should be recognised in a written constitution)

3. Maori devolution Maori (have the right to self-determination in the tribes and whanau)