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Minister congratulates Australia for Act of Recognition


14 February 2013

Press Release

Minister congratulates Australian House of Representatives for Act of Recognition

Minister of Maori Affairs, Hon Dr Pita Sharples has welcomed the news that today Australia’s House of Representatives unanimously passed an Act of Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as first peoples of Australia, which also commits the next Parliament to hold a referendum with the intention of recognising their indigenous status in Australia’s Constitution.

Dr Sharples said “I applaud the commitment shown by Australia’s House of Representatives to provide recognition for the rights and status of indigenous people in Australia.”

“This is one small step on the journey to constitutional recognition, but it marks a significant milestone for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.”

“It was only five years ago that an apology was issued by the Australian Prime Minister to the ‘stolen generations’ of indigenous people, who, by various Acts of parliament were removed as children from their families,” said Dr. Sharples. “It was a moving gesture that touched us here in Aotearoa.”

“In this past five years, the Australian government has shown courage in their progress towards recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and I commend them for their commitment to seeing this through to constitutional recognition, which I hope will come in the future.”

“The news of the passing of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Recognition Bill comes at a time when New Zealand are currently in the process of reviewing our own constitutional arrangements, whereby matters of interest to Maori such as Maori representation, and Te Tiriti o Waitangi are also being discussed.”

“It is timely, and it is relevant to our own discussions here. I applaud the Australian House of Representatives, and extend my warmest congratulations to our Aboriginal relatives.”

“This is certainly a step in the right direction.”

ENDS



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