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Why should tribes use discriminatory legislation?

Why should tribes use discriminatory foreshore legislation? Tuesday, 22 March 2005 Press Release: Taranaki Maori Trust Board

Why should tribes use discriminatory foreshore legislation? The Taranaki Maori Trust Board is disappointed with the Government’s response to criticism of the Foreshore Act by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The Board first filed submissions with the Committee in June 2004.

The Board’s Chair Mr Ted Tamati said "It is clear that the comments of the Prime Minister and Deputy PM are a cynical attempt to read down the significance of the decision and take it off the political radar screen. This is a decision from one of the key human rights bodies in the United Nations; New Zealand ratified the Racial Discrimination treaty in 1972 and has participated in its reporting process for over 30 years. It smacks of hypocrisy to now dismiss the body because it finds New Zealand in breach of the treaty.”

“The decision clearly finds New Zealand in breach of the Racial Discrimination treaty and that is a serious issue for all New Zealanders. If the Government is not prepared to follow the decision and meet with Maori to discuss ways to remove the discrimination from the foreshore legislation, then tribes throughout New Zealand should consider whether they should participate in the Act’s processes. It’s up to individual hapu but why should Maori use legislation that discriminates against them?”

“For Taranaki tribes, there is no way they can seek a Territorial Customary Rights order under the Act as ownership of land adjoining the sea is a prerequisite for such claims and almost all Taranaki tribal land was confiscated by the Crown in the 1860s. And the bitter irony is that the Labour Government has publicly conceded that these confiscations were unjust and breached the Treaty of Waitangi.”

“The Government’s treatment of the foreshore issue highlights the need for a written, entrenched human rights code that stops the enactment of legislation that breaches the human rights of New Zealanders”.

Mr Tamati also expressed disappointment in the New Zealand media for reporting the Prime Minister’s comments without question and the absence of any comprehensive commentary on the CERD decision.

The Board plans to keep the pressure on the Government by seeking support from the New Zealand Human Rights Commission and inviting the UN Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples to visit New Zealand and comment on the Act. The Board is also considering lodging a petition with the other main human rights treaty body, the UN Human Rights Committee.


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