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Sharples: The People Will Decide

The People Will Decide

Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leader Maori Party Wednesday 5 April 2006

"No amount of emotive bad-mouthing, or transparent media spin will influence Maori" said Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leader of the Maori Party, in response to the disappointing responses he received to questions in the House about the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people from Rodolfo Stavenhagen.

"Yesterday, eighty Maori people from throughout Aotearoa gathered at Parliament, many of them living in cities and towns (but not necessarily limiting themselves to Labour's new tribe, 'Urban Maori'). These people took the time to read the United Nations report. Not one expressed a dissenting voice".

"I live on a marae in an urban setting. I am Ngati Kahungunu. It would be arrogant for anyone to define the reality for another. I name my world, and my identity. I do not need to be defined by a politician for the purpose of political spin".

Over the course of the last twenty four hours a large range of emotive responses have dribbled forth from the lips of Government Ministers:

* "the United Nations committee has an ill-odour"
* "the people that Professor Stavenhagen spoke to were entrenched in a grievance mentality" * "the report was ghost-written"
* the report is error-ridden and fundamentally wrong"
* "the report is unbalanced"
* "the Rapporteur had a pre-conceived agenda and was particularly selective about who he spoke to and more importantly who he actually listened to"
* "the report represents a rigid ideological approach"
* "The Rapporteur chose only to listen to the disgruntled, resulting in negativity"
* "the report is disappointing, unbalanced and narrow".

"The Prime Minister may like to remember the advice of the bard, "Methinks the lady doth protest too much" stated Dr Sharples.

"Maori will come to their own conclusions about the extent of effort the Government is going to, to publicly rubbish the report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur".

"The longer the minority Labour Government criticises the Report the more relevant the report will become to Maori. Ironically the best sales person for the Report has been Dr Cullen himself" said Dr Sharples.

"In trying to understand why the Government has launched an unprecedented attack on this United Nations Report, Maori will also be mindful of the response from Maori, who have described the report as:

* insightful and intelligent
* vindicating the stance of Maori against the Foreshore and Seabed Act; * wide-ranging and showing a good understanding of the situation"

"This report reminds us of the reasons why Maori people set up the Maori Party" stated Dr Sharples. "This report is going to spur the Maori people on to be more determined to pursue our goals and establish tino rangatiratanga over own rohe".

"The report has been universally endorsed by Maori" stated Dr Sharples.

"It is disappointing - but predictable - that both National and Labour have spoken out on this report given their prevailing positions regarding Maori".


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