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Natalie Coates Calls For Diplomatic Reset In Treaty And Language Reforms, Named LawFuel's 2023 Lawyer Of The Year

Wellington, New Zealand – Leading lawyer and champion of indigenous rights, Natalie Coates, has been recognized as LawFuel’s 2023 Lawyer of the Year. In light of proposed reforms surrounding Māori language and te Tiriti o Waitangi, Coates stresses the need for a 'diplomatic reset' to address what she terms as the government's 'alarming and divisive' approach.

Coates, who lead the successful advocacy in the landmark Supreme Court case for Peter Ellis, has been a vocal proponent of tikanga, the Māori customary rights and their inclusion in the legal system. The article detailing her views on the issues can be seen here.

Her expertise in indigenous rights and human rights has positioned her at the forefront of the debate over the role of tikanga and the Treaty within New Zealand’s legal framework.

"The recent shifts in policy regarding Te Tiriti o Waitangi and te reo Māori are not just concerning; they threaten the very fabric of our nation's constitution," Coates stated.

"The 'hack and attack' approach proposed for Te Tiriti reforms risks eroding the progress we've made towards a harmonious Crown-Māori relationship."

Coates highlights the distress these proposals have caused within the Māori community, pointing out the historical context of Māori being punished for speaking their language.

"The move to diminish te reo from our national identity and Crown agencies feels like a step backwards, undermining decades of efforts to revive the language from the brink of extinction," she said.

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The lawyer's comments come at a critical juncture as the government's stance on te reo risks re-opening old wounds.

Despite the challenges, Coates remains optimistic about the future, citing the Māori Language Act 2016 and various Treaty settlements as steps in the right direction. "What we need now is a diplomatic reset, a move towards an inclusive, informed conversation that honors our past and shapes our future as a nation," she concluded.

LawFuel is delighted to celebrate the work of a talented and committed legal advocate who joins other notable New Zealand lawyers in the pantheon of leading lawyers recognised by the website over the past decade.

Lawfuel is one of the Internet’s first law news sites, published from Wellington since 2001 and reaching lawyers across multiple jurisdictions.

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