So what the issues we might want to agree on?

Well this nation is founded on an agreement that has been badly ignored. Some feel the Treaty settlements address this - but I see them as our (English) framework - primarily money - and ignoring other issues. Again there are no easy solutions - but any solution has to involve genuine listening.

Once we've established a more meaningful relationship between Maori and English, we can then look at how our multi racial reality should work. Immigants expect (and should have) the same freedoms to be themselves - but having seen some of the atrocities outside on NZ, and the way some minorities grow and become more vocal in demanding we change to fit them, it is understandable that there is apprehension today. Both sides make some valid points - but they aren't listening to each other - which gets no-one any better. Some groups take advantage of fear to behave intolerantly - but most people are not like that. How we protect groups from others is again a delicate and long piece of string.

Then there's the role of the state versus the individual. I personally support maximum freedom for the individual. But the legacy of decades of much state involvement in almost everything has seen a focus on the individual without a corresponding responsibility on society. This is most obvious for example in health, welfare and education. So there is a whole mindset of "rights" which means this could not easily be changed overnight. On the other hand, I certainly don't want the US system which leaves large pockets of society with inadequate heath care.

Of course there's also the free market to consider. By and large the free market is the best mechanism for commercial services. But there are cases where it does not work well. These include monopolies, duopolies, and oligopolies etc where the market has no real influence on the success or failure of the business. There are also cases where we agree to provide or support a service that is not economically viable.

The traditional three arms of government to be considered - political, administrative and legal. That seems a reasonable breakdown - but we've seen a creeping influence of particularly the political over the administrative. This includes political appointees both to internal and to diplomatic positions. Being a big fan of Yes Minister I don't want to see our civil service follow that - but there have to be better alternatives. And while we're at it, we need to define the roles of the armed services and police and emergency services.

Doubtless there are more issues that should be decided - but interestingly the flag and the anthem aren't two of them. If we had a good attempt at defining ourselves, these could flow - far more easily than at present.