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Communication with Maori applauded

Communication with Maori applauded at World Conference on Climate Change

New Zealand is leading by example in developing consultation with its indigenous people on climate change, says a Maori Government official at the Hague 2000 World Conference on Climate Change.

At the conference, Dr Charlotte Severne, the Ministry for the Environment’s Treaty and Maori environmental policy group analyst, says New Zealand’s developing climate change policy is a good example of effective communications with indigenous people.

Dr Severne was invited to attend the Indigenous Peoples Forum at the conference through another New Zealand Maori representative, Christine Webster. Ms Webster is not part of the official delegation but is at the conference through sponsorship by a world organisation of indigenous activists, which recognised that NZ is unique because of the Treaty of Waitangi.

"This is the first time New Zealand government officials have been invited into the indigenous group and it has been a real eye-opener, not just for us, but for the other countries represented in this group," Dr Severne said. "In seeing their struggles for any form of recognition or consultation, we have realised that we are on the right track."

"I was able to say that the New Zealand Government has just this month concluded a series of 10 nationwide hui to discuss consultation options for climate change. I could tell them that we are listening to Maori and that we will consult with our Treaty Partner, along with the rest of New Zealand, on climate change towards the middle of 2001."

Maori have been involved in the developing New Zealand climate change programme since 1990, when a Maori Working Group was established to assess climate change impacts on Maori. Feedback from the recent hui will be integrated into a discussion paper on New Zealand's climate change policy that will become the working document for formal consultation around mid-2001.

New Zealand has joined more than 160 countries in the Netherlands this week to finalise detail of the Kyoto Protocol – a climate treaty to reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions to combat global warming. Minister of Energy Pete Hodgson, the convenor of the ministerial committee on climate change, will join 100 other ministers at the conference next week.

ENDS

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