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Recognising the Rights of Indigenous People

09/08/02

Recognising the Rights of Indigenous People

World Indigenous People’s Day is a reminder that increasing public awareness of the rights of indigenous people is crucial to further ensure the development of a harmonious, multicultural nation.

Human Rights Commissioner Merimeri Penfold cited the right of Maori to speak Te Reo as an example of an indigenous right which should be recognised and upheld.

“The right to use the language of your culture is a basic human right. Every culture has a worldview and the languages used to explain that worldview provide richness and diversity to communities working towards building a fair and just society”.

Dr Penfold said that New Zealand has a real opportunity to develop as a bilingual nation and to do so would benefit all New Zealanders.

“Good communication requires all parties to make efforts to understand each other: greater efforts by Government and the public to remove barriers to the natural use of Te Reo, as well as more New Zealanders learning Maori, would do much to help create a better country for all of us”.

She also noted that starting off bilingual is the best foundation for becoming multi-lingual.

In order to help raise Maori awareness of the international indigenous rights situation the Commission yesterday hosted a workshop, facilitated by Moana Jackson, on “Maori Awareness of United Nations Indigenous Developments”.

Discussion of the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was a central focus of the workshop. Participants also talked about Maori involvement in the UN sessions relating to the Draft Declaration and how the Commission could assist.

Dr Penfold said that the workshop had been a success and newly established working groups would continue to progress the work begun.

Ends

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