Descent discrimination in NZ.

New Zealand's constitutional monarchy and discrimination on the grounds of descent.

Descent discrimination in New Zealand.

Anthony Ravlich
Human Rights Council (New Zealand)
www.hrc2001.org.nz

The following paragraphs are my small contribution to a future article by the Republic of New Zealand Party which is opposed to royalty and has adopted ethical human rights as its ‘ethical base’. However, I should add that ethical human rights, which requires no forms of discrimination, can form the ‘ethical base’ of any political party brave enough to challenge domestic and global neoliberalism.

New Zealand, when describing the grounds of non-discrimination that exist in NZ domestic human rights law to the UN Human Rights Committee in March 2010, failed to inform the Committee that non-discrimination on the grounds of birth had also been excluded (Human Rights Committee 98th Session CCPR/C/NZL/Q/5/Add.1, 8 to 26 March 2010, Advance unedited version, No 3).

My contribution is as follows:

“Non-discrimination on the ground of birth, which includes descent i.e. family lineage, has been left out of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 which is a constitutional document.

In addition to permitting the Maori elite to discriminate against their own people on the grounds of Whakapapa (i.e. family lineage) it certainly seems the exclusion of this ground is also required for New Zealand’s system of government which is described as a constitutional monarchy where the Head of State (the Sovereign) is a hereditary monarch whose powers are exercised within constitutional constraints.

While the role of the Governor-General, appointed by the Queen, is described as very largely ceremonial it appears the omission of the above ground of non-discrimination with respect to birth can allow, in an unusual situation, the Governor-General to decide who governs.

The Rt Hon Sir Kenneth Keith describes such a situation where ‘the position within the House or the governing party is unclear’:
“Situations like this were rare in New Zealand under the first past the post electoral system, but have been less rare since the introduction of the proportional representation electoral system. The essential principle in such situations continues to be that the Queen, as a constitutional monarch, or the Governor-General, as her representative, acts in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister or Ministers who have the necessary support of the House of Representatives. Where that support is unclear, the Governor-General relies on the elected representatives in the House, and especially the party leaders, to clarify whether a party or grouping of parties has the support of the House to govern, or whether fresh elections will be required” (On the Constitution of New Zealand: An Introduction to the Foundations of the Current Form of Government, The Rt Hon Sir Kenneth Keith, 1990, updated 2008, see internet”.

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