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Indigenous Rights Petition gathers 1000 names

Petition gathers 1,000 names calling on government to engage Maori in UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights

An international petition expressing concern at the lack of Maori and general public involvement in determining the position taken by the New Zealand government at a key United Nations forum has been signed by over 1100 people from more than 40 countries around the world.

Manu Caddie, Director of the Pacific Centre for Participatory Democracy based in Gisborne, said the online petition, started just before Christmas, was initiated to demonstrate to the government how much support there was for meaningful engagement on the issue with Maori.

A number of prominent New Zealanders including artists, politicians, activists, academics, business leaders and lawyers have signed the petition which was presented to Parliament today. Petition organisers estimate that at least half of the names are people who identify themselves as Maori, and around one third are from indigenous peoples from overseas who have heard about the attempt by New Zealand government officials to radically alter the text of the draft Declaration which has been debated by states and indigenous peoples for the last ten years.

Aroha Te Pareake Mead, an academic from the School of Management at Victoria University, has been involved with the dDRIP for the last eighteen years and is critical of the government’s recent actions.

“Many Maori who have followed the Draft Declaration process were both concerned with and embarrassed by the Crown’s contribution at the recent Eleventh Inter-sessional Working Group Meeting on the draft Declaration.”

“We regard the position taken by NZ as constituting a significant shift in position. It was not interpreted by participants of the WGDD-11 as being constructive and warrants further discussion with Maori before articulation in such a sensitive international negotiation.”

“The latest contribution of the New Zealand government has also been widely criticised by indigenous peoples organisations present at that meeting as well as Amnesty International. The Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is the most important document to come out the United Nations in the last 50 years as far as Maori are concerned, we want to be part of establishing the New Zealand position, that’s all we ask.” said Ms Mead.

The petition was translated into Spanish and names of individuals on the petition come from countries as diverse as Bosnia, Ecuador, the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Greece, Australia, Spain, Switzerland, Canada, Italy, France, Chile, Brazil, Peru, Netherlands, Mexico, Columbia, Finland, Niger, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Japan, Korea, Venezuela, Bolivia, Norway, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Philippines, Niue, Uzbekistan, Nepal, Malaysia, Belgium, India, and Panama.

ENDS

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