For many years, the status of the Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand's constitution has been the topic of many heated debates between politicians and academic sources, with Maori and the Waitangi Tribunal. As it stands, the Treaty of Waitangi is considered to be the founding document of New Zealand's government, however it is not currently a formal part of the constitution and therefore is not enforceable by law. This essay will be discussing the essential features of a constitution, specifically New Zealand's, the role that the Treaty of Waitangi plays, and finally, whether or not it should be made into a formal part of the constitution. Based on evidence discussed in this essay, it is evident that the role of the Treaty of Waitangi is sufficient and it's status should remain the same, mainly due to the confusion it could cause due to there being two versions of the document which says contradictory things. .
A constitution is one of the most important features of any government as it details who has the right to exercise public power, and how they do so (Palmer, 2008). Constitutions can either be written "formal document outlining the rules and regulations" or unwritten - based on customs and a wide range of statutes and other legal documents. New Zealand's constitution is unwritten and is largely based on legislation, common law/decisions of the court, letters, patent, delegated legislation and constitutional conventions. It reflects and establishes that we as a country are a monarchy, that we have a parliamentary system, and that it is a democracy (Keith, 2008). The constitution also stresses that the Treaty of Waitangi is the founding document of New Zealand's government. .
The structure of New Zealand's government is fundamental in understanding the formation of the country's constitution. The Government follows a Westminster system, which means there is a constitutional monarchy and a sovereign Parliament.