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Te Ururoa Flavell MoJ Financial Review Speech

Financial Review : Ministry of Justice
Justice and Electoral: Te Ururoa Flavell
Tuesday 4 April 2006

The consideration of the estimates and financial reviews in the committee of the whole House has traditionally been regarded as a time dedicated to holding the Government to account.

And what better day to hold the Government to account for the work of the Ministry of Justice than today, a day in which the nation is reeling from the damning Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, presented to the United Nations by Rodolfo Stavenhagen?

I'd urge the Minister of Justice to spend the recess period reading this report and consider how he may implement its recommendations, both in terms of policy formulation and practice.

Human Rights

The Special Rapporteur considers that New Zealand's human rights legislation does not provide sufficient protection mechanisms regarding the collective rights of Maori that emanate from article 2 of Te Tiriti o Waitangi (in other words tino rangatiratanga).

The Maori Party has made approaches to the Attorney-General and the Human Rights Commission regarding the Foreshore and Seabed Act - and the response was, in our view, inadequate. The report of the Special Rapporteur supports our view.

He also considers that the underlying legal and political fragility of Maori rights translates into a human rights protection gap that seems not to be sufficiently covered by existing legislation.

The legal and political fragility of Maori was brought home to us most vividly this morning, with reports from the Ka-koi allegedly breaking the law.

Political Representation

We were advised by members of the ka-koi that yesterday, two of their cars - one with Mr Hone Harawira's name featured on it, and another with a Maori Party flag flying from the windows - were followed through the fine town of Tokoroa (a haven for Maori Party activity).

When apprehended, the car driver was charged with unreasonable use of a 'warning device' - cars were sounding their horn for support in a celebration of democracy.

The alleged offence incurred an infringement fee of $1000 for one driver and $750 for the other. The offences included "driving in a manner likely to annoy other people". Well although I can't see it, I suppose the mere name of Mr Harawira has the potential to annoy other people -but it does seem bizarre to me that the only cars pulled out of a line of cars travelling this road, were those identified with the Maori Party insignia.

Mr Chair, the legal and political fragility of our people - as proven in Tokoroa - is seen day after day in the Courts of this land. It is little wonder that the Special Rapporteur also became aware of it.

As the House was told earlier today, the United Nations Special Rapporteur's report found, that the "inherent rights of Maori were not constitutionally recognised".

Entrench Te Tiriti o Waitangi

It is for that reason, that the report to the United Nations included a very strong recommendation about the urgent need for constitutional reform in order to clearly regulate the relationship between the Government and the Maori people on the basis of the Treaty of Waitangi and the internationally recognized rights of all peoples to self-determination.

The Special Rapporteur recommends that The Treaty of Waitangi should be entrenched constitutionally.

The Special Rapporteur also recommends that the MMP electoral system should be constitutionally entrenched to guarantee adequate representation of Maori in the legislature and at the regional and local governance levels.

Maori Electoral Option

This is a key recommendation for the Minister of Justice, and could hardly be better timing than at the very start of the Maori electoral option campaign. We are greatly heartened by reports from political analysts that the political landscape will change dramatically through the proactive decision of large numbers of young Maori who are enrolling to vote. We know that the number of Maori seats in this House could be increased to thirteen if all tangata whenua enrolled on the Maori roll.

This is the most exciting opportunity that tangata whenua have to increase our influence in the political decision making in this nation. The independent Maori political voice is a means to achieving tino rangatiratanga, that is, a degree of self-determination consistent with Te Tiriti of Waitangi.

The independent Maori political voice in this House has created a wave of interest for many Maori people, to participate as equals. Isn't that worth sounding your horn for?

ENDS

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