Since the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 various other laws have identified, repeated and developed the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. In 2011 over 30 pieces of legislation referred to the principles of the treaty. Most of those acts related to natural resources, but a few, like the Education Act 1989, were about social policy.
Examples of references to treaty principles in laws included:
- ‘In the management of natural and physical resources, full and balanced account is taken of (amongst other things) the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi’ (Environment Act 1986).
- ‘Nothing in this Act shall permit the Crown to act in a manner that is inconsistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi’ (State Owned Enterprises Act 1986).
- ‘This Act shall so be interpreted and administered as to give effect to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi’ (Conservation Act 1987).
- All ‘persons exercising functions and powers under it, in relation to managing the use, development, and protection of natural and physical resources, shall take into account the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi)’ (Resource Management Act 1991).
- ‘All persons exercising functions and powers under this Act shall have regard to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi)’ (Crown Minerals Act 1991).
The Fisheries Act 1983 included a provision that, under the Treaty of Waitangi, nothing in the act should affect any Māori fishing rights. In 1990 Te Rūnanga o Muriwhenua, representing a group of Far North tribes, claimed in court that the quota management system introduced in 1986 to manage commercial fishing rights breached this provision. The Court of Appeal upheld the rūnanga’s case, describing the treaty as a living instrument that needed to take into account the developing realities of life in present-day New Zealand. For example, the overfishing of traditional Māori fishing grounds had created a situation not foreseen at the time of the treaty.