Chapter in Waitangi: Maori and Pakeha Perspectives of the Treaty of Waitangi (Kawharu ed. 1989)

The Treaty of Waitangi: Some International Law Aspects

Benedict Kingsbury

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A remarkable upswell in international activity concerning the position of indigenous peoples has occurred since the beginning of the 1980s. The contemporary New Zealand debate concerning the meaning and significance of the Treaty of Waitangi increasingly draws on international and comparative material, not least in the work of the Waitangi Tribunal … The purpose of this chapter is to survey briefly some of the relevant international legal material which may have a bearing on issues related to the Treaty of Waitangi. The chapter is in three sections. The first briefly examines the status of the Treaty of Waitangi in international law as a treaty of cession. The second discusses the international law principles of good faith, estoppel, and treaty interpretation in relation to Treaty issues. The third section alludes to a few of the many other areas of international law which may be relevant to Maori concerns, focusing specifically on international law aspects of rights to land, to development, and to cultural identity.