Matike Mai Aotearoa, the Independent Working Group (the Group) on Constitutional Transformation, was first promoted at a meeting of the Iwi Chairs’ Forum (the Forum) in 2010. The Terms of Reference given to the Working Group were deliberately broad –

“To develop and implement a model for an inclusive Constitution for Aotearoa based on tikanga and kawa, He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Niu Tireni of 1835, Te Tiriti o Waitangi of 1840, and other indigenous human rights instruments which enjoy a wide degree of international recognition”.

A Forum Representative, Professor Margaret Mutu, was appointed the Working Group Chair and Moana Jackson was invited to be its Convenor. Members of the Working Group were nominated by Iwi and other organisations or were co-opted. The Chairperson and Convenor facilitated 252 hui between 2012 and 2015. The rōpū rangatahi convened by Veronica Tawhai presented 70 wānanga. The Working Group also invited written submissions, organised focus groups, and conducted one-on-one interviews. The views they received canvassed a number of topics such as the relationship between Te Tiriti and democracy, what is meant by a treaty relationship, what is a constitution, and other related issues, this Report synthesises those views.


  • Firstly, in the view of the Working Group, history clearly indicates that prior to 1840 Iwi and Hapū were vibrant and functional constitutional entities. That is, they had the right, capacity and authority to make politically binding decisions for the well-being of their people and their lands.
  • Secondly, the Working Group viewed that, in constitutional terms, tikanga, He Whakaputanga, Te Tiriti, and other indigenous instruments are fundamentally relevant because they all express the right for Māori to make decisions for Māori that is the very essence of tino rangatiratanga.
  • Thirdly, the values upon which a constitution would be based on needed to be identified. Thus, the constitutional values identified by the Group were the values of: Tikanga; Community; Belonging; Place; Balance; Conciliation; and Structure.
  • Lastly, the Group drew some conclusions and translated the kōrero about the nature, foundations and values of a constitution into a vision for constitutional transformation. It also describes six indicative constitutional models that arose from the kōrero.

Constitutional models

The underlying kaupapa behind each model is that tikanga and our own history always recognised the independence of each Iwi and Hapū. The only restraint on that independence was the further and unique tikanga of interdependence – that is the belief that whakapapa ultimately bound everyone together and that any concept of constitutional and political authority was reflective of that.

The other kaupapa underlying the suggested indicative models is that Te Tiriti envisaged the continuing exercise of rangatiratanga while granting a place for kāwanatanga. It provided for what the Waitangi Tribunal recently described as “different spheres of influence” which allowed for both the independent exercise of rangatiratanga and kāwanatanga and the expectation that there would also be an interdependent sphere where they might make joint decisions.

We call those spheres of influence the “rangatiratanga sphere”, where Māori make decisions for Māori and the “kāwanatanga sphere” where the Crown will make decisions for its people. The sphere where they will work together as equals is called the “relational sphere” because it is where the Tiriti relationship will operate. It is the sphere where a conciliatory and consensual democracy would be most needed.


The Group made seven recommendations, most of which related to continuing conversations amongst and between tangata whenua, tangata tiriti and the Crown regarding the need for and possibilities of constitutional transformation.

They set a goal to have constitutional transformation by 2040. They acknowledged that although it will be difficult, it is not insurmountable. We are continuing this work to make sure that goal is met.