Originalism and the Treaty of Waitangi

Paul Moon


Originalism has long been used as a conceptual approach for interpreting the United States Constitution. Its premise is that the authoritative interpretation of constitutional documents is best obtained by determining the meaning of their texts as they were understood at the time of their creation, along with the intent of their drafters and adopters. This article examines both the potential and the limitations of originalism when applied to the Treaty of Waitangi, and explores how the manner in which the Treaty’s provisions were devised, drafted, and subsequently acceded to militates against the sort of exactness of interpretation that originalism offers elsewhere.

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