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D for Disaster says the Maori Party

D for Disaster says the Maori Party

Te Ururoa Flavell, Foreign Affairs Spokesperson for the Maori Party

Thursday 30 November 2006

The Maori Party today expressed anger at the news from the United Nations that despite valiant attempts from indigenous peoples all over the world, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People has been relegated to the back-burner.

"We had hoped that 'D Day for Labour' would be one in which they supported the aspirations of some 370 million indigenous peoples in voting for the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples" said Mr Flavell.

"Instead, it has become D Day for disaster". [Refer to Maori Party release of 28 November, 'PM told this is D Day']

"What it means is that certain states now have another opportunity to make even more changes to the Declaration's text, further eroding the possibility of a minimal standard of human rights protections for Indigenous Peoples. If the Declaration is unable to set even a minimum standard, twenty years of work will have been in vain" noted Mr Flavell.

Reports from the Indigenous Peoples Caucus at the United Nations suggest that at least one-third of the Declaration could be up for re-drafting.

"The most sickening part of all this is the prominent role that the New Zealand Labour Government has had in this devastating outcome - despite repeated and vigorous appeals by Maori for them to change tack. It is to the Labour Government's ongoing shame that they have contributed to the stagnant inertia reported back from New York" said Te Ururoa Flavell.

"Maori want to know what the Minister of Foreign Affairs has been saying on their behalf - particularly when he has failed to even meet with them since this whole issue has come to the fore" said Mr Flavell.

"Three weeks ago, Hirini Moko Mead, Chairman of the Mataatua Assembly of Tribes, issued a statement condemning the current Minister of Foreign Affairs' decision to vote against the Declaration as being an "unacceptable stance that does not reflect any due democratic process between the Crown and Iwi on an issue of such significance".

"It is actually quite simple" said Mr Flavell. "Can we not talk? Why is the Government afraid to talk to Tainui? To Tuwharetoa? To Ngai Tahu? To Ngati Porou? To Te Arawa? What is their problem?"

"I have read the statement from the Indigenous People's Caucus which names and shames New Zealand alongside Canada, Australia, USA and Africa; describing their actions as showing "complete disregard for the ongoing human rights abuses suffered by Indigenous peoples".

"I have read the statement from the Inuit Circumpolar Council and the Saami Council in which the "deceitful" work of New Zealand is described as a "huge insult" to the newly established Human Rights Council, and the UN reform of human rights" said Mr Flavell.

"I have read the statement from the Assembly of First Nations which describes the no-action motion as being "engineered through the political manoeuvring": of various states including New Zealand.

"It would appear that after two whole decades of debate and open dialogue, the spirit of co-operation has been ground down by the opposition from a few states, including our own", said Mr Flavell.

"The nations best poised to show leadership and make a difference to the most marginalised and vulnerable people around the globe, have collectively shown that their colonial-age desire for resources still outweighs the value of human life in the 21st century", concluded Mr Flavell.

"What we have seen happening on the international stage, is the continued arrogance of the Labour Government that they "know best" how to treat the natives. All that the actions of these behind-the scenes manoeuvring do, is to continue to perpetuate the master/servant colonial paradigm".


Mr Flavell has been advised that the United Nations' Third Committee has failed to adopt the most significant instrument for the promotion and protection of the human rights of indigenous peoples.

The Committee voted to defer consideration of the Declaration to allow more time for discussions and consultations. The Declaration will then be considered before the end of the 61st session of the UN General Assembly (which is September 2007).


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