Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Commission's role to build discussion and dialogue

Human Rights Commission
Media Release
13 April 2006

Commission's role to build discussion and dialogue

The Human Rights Commission has provided advice to government and Parliament and promoted constructive discussion throughout the public debate on the foreshore and seabed issue, Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres said today.

He was responding to criticism of the Commission by Maori Party co-leader Dr Pita Sharples.

Mr de Bres said it was not correct to say that the Commission had failed to engage on the foreshore and seabed issue, although no-one was able to bridge the gap between different parties because positions became so entrenched.

Mr de Bres said that key Commission actions had included the following:

* The Commission made an extensive submission to the Prime Minister on the subject in November 2003, before the Bill was introduced into Parliament, pointing out potential breaches of human rights.

* The Commission commented positively on the Waitangi Tribunal report in March 2004 and called for dialogue, as recommended by the Tribunal

* The Commission provided a detailed submission on the Foreshore and Seabed Bill to the Select Committee in July 2004.

* The Commission received a number of complaints about the Foreshore and Seabed Act, including a complaint from Ms Tariana Turia which was received on 14 April 2005. All complaints were acknowledged and there was further correspondence with the complainants about the process, including Ms Turia. The matter was notified to Crown Law on 1 June 2005, with a request for their response to the issues raised as part of the normal mediation process. The response from Crown Law was not received by the Commission until 16 February 2006, which was the reason for the delay in responding substantively to Ms Turia. Throughout this time, the Commission was in contact with Ms Turia to inform her about the progress of the matter.

* The Commission has organised public forums to debate the issue and other matters relating to human rights and the Treaty of Waitangi . Over 15,000 people have been involved in symposia, dialogue sessions and presentations over the past two years, including Maori and Government spokespeople and other community leaders.

Mr de Bres said that his response to the Report of the UN Special Rapporteur, Professor Stavenhagen, had not been reported fully on Radio New Zealand and he had registered a complaint with them about that. He said that the radio report, on which Dr Sharples' criticism was based did not capture his view that the recommendations of the report were a "missed opportunity".

Mr de Bres said that at a hui on Rangatiratanga at Victoria University on Tuesday (which was organised by the Commission) he had made it clear that his comments were not about the body of the report, which set out many of the issues clearly, and in fact quoted extensively from the Commission's own submission on the Foreshore and Seabed Bill. Rather he was disappointed with the recommendations, which he felt were unlikely to be accepted in their present form. He felt that in a different form they could have led to renewed dialogue and cooperation on the important issues raised.

Mr de Bres said he would continue to look for ways in which the issues raised by the UN Special Rapporteur's report could be practically advanced.

He said that that an important aspect of the Commission's role was to build constructive relationships between the diverse groups that make up New Zealand, not to act as a lobbyist for any particular group. The Commission's focus was on dispute resolution and getting parties to talk to one another.

The Commission has provided its assessment of race relations in New Zealand in its recent report, Race Relations in 2005 . The report is available on the Commission's website and can be ordered in hard copy by phoning 0800 496 877.

Mr de Bres said he would seek to meet with Dr Sharples to discuss the issues further.

"I have the highest regard for Pita as a former staff member of the Race Relations Office and hope we can resolve some of these misunderstandings."


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Also, Loan Interest: Productivity Commission On Tertiary Education

Key recommendations include better quality control; making it easier for students to transfer between courses; abolishing University Entrance; enabling tertiary institutions to own and control their assets; making it easier for new providers to enter the system; and facilitating more and faster innovation by tertiary education providers... More>>


Higher Payments: Wellington Regional Council Becomes A Living Wage Employer

Councillor Sue Kedgley said she was delighted that the Wellington Regional Council unanimously adopted her motion to become a Living Wage employer, making it the first regional council in New Zealand to do so. More>>


Scoop Images:
Dame Patsy Reddy Sworn In As Governor-General

This morning Dame Patsy Reddy was sworn in as the New Zealand Realm’s 21st Governor-General. The ceremony began with a pōwhiri to welcome Dame Patsy and her husband Sir David Gascoigne to Parliament. More>>


Ruataniwha: DOC, Hawke's Bay Council Developer Take Supreme Court Appeal

The Department of Conservation and Hawke's Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) are appealing to the Supreme Court over a conservation land swap which the Court of Appeal halted. More>>


With NZ's Marama Davidson: Women’s Flotilla Leaves Sicily – Heading For Gaza

Women representing 13 countries spanning five continents began their journey yesterday on Zaytouna-Oliva to the shores of Gaza, which has been under blockade since 2007. On board are a Nobel Peace Laureate, three parliamentarians, a decorated US diplomat, journalists, an Olympic athlete, and a physician. A list of the women with their background can be found here. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Key Style Of Crisis Management

At Monday’s post Cabinet press conference Key was in his finest wide- eyed “Problem? What problem?” mode. No, there wasn’t really a problem that top MPI officials had been at odds with each other over the meaning of the fisheries policy and how that policy should be pursued... More>>


Mt Roskill: Greens Will Not Stand In Likely Post-Goff By-Election

“The Green Party’s priority is changing the Government in 2017, and as part of that we’ve decided that we won’t stand a candidate in the probable Mt Roskill by-election... This decision shows the Memorandum of Understanding between Labour and the Green Party is working." More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news