Treaty Vs Voice: How Does New Zealand Compare To Australia?

How does Australia’s Constitution compare to our major neighbour New Zealand represents First Nations Peoples?

The Treaty of Waitangi – an agreement between the British Crown and Maori Chiefs – was signed in 1840.


It’s something that has been spoken about in conversations as Australia heads to a referendum on October 14.

Has it had positive consequences for the Maori people? Or are there still difficulties interpreting a document written and agreed upon so long ago?  

This week on Blak Matters, Teela Reid and Michael ‘MC’ Christian are joined by Professor Dominic O’Sullivan, proud Māori man and expert on the politics of Indigenous peoples.

Professor O’Sullivan explains the differences between the invasion of New Zealand and Australia, why New Zealand has a treaty, and we don’t, and what we can learn from their example.

The Treaty of Waitangi ensured “respectful relationships” were built between British colonisers and Maori people – a key difference between colonisers settling in Australia.

“The instructions to the British explorers who first came to New Zealand was that they were to foster respectful relationships,” Professor O’Sullivan said.

“They weren’t to go and, plant a flag and say, ‘this is ours,’ the way that, that happened in Australia.

“Britain could establish government over its own people. Maori would retain authority over their own affairs and Maori would have available to them the rights and privileges of British subjects.”

You can hear the deep dive between the differences between Australia and New Zealand on the latest episode of Blak Matters.