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NZ stance on Indigenous issues queried

Maori Party Asks Questions about New Zealand Stance on Indigenous issues

Te Ururoa Flavell; Member of Parliament for Waiariki

15 November 2005

The Maori Party today asked a series of questions of the Government, about comments reported as shocking indigenous groups at the 60th General Assembly meeting in New York last month.

"International indigenous representatives have contacted the Maori Party, asking for answers as to New Zealand's shock turnaround on the draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples" stated Te Ururoa Flavell, Member of Parliament for Waiariki.

For over ten years New Zealand has been sending governmental representatives to advance the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

"We were asked if we knew of any consultation that had been undertaken to justify the 11th hour response of New Zealand" said Mr Flavell. "For the Government to now say that that the draft declaration was "unworkable and unacceptable" was a complete surprise to former delegates".

"It was particularly bizarre that such statements should come out in this, the launching of the Second Decade on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples," said Mr Flavell.

"Fresh from the embarrassing comments of the Labour-appointed High Commissioner to Canada, Graham Kelly: "Once they got to New Zealand they started fighting and eating each other, so there have been Maori wars ever since then", the latest comments do nothing to restore confidence of the international indigenous community in the performance of this minority Government. It must embarrass the indigenous Foreign Affairs Minister and the indigenous Maori Affairs Minister of this Government".

"We would suggest that the latest debacle, set within the context of the UN's special investigation by the Special Rapporteur, will mean New Zealand can kiss its chances goodbye of winning a seat in the prestigious international Human Rights Committee" stated Mr Flavell.

Background The Special Rapporteur on the rights and freedoms of indigenous peoples is visiting New Zealand from 17 th- 25th November. The Special Rapporteur, Rodolfo Stavenhagen (Mexico) is an international expert and advocate for indigenous peoples.

He is coming to New Zealand following the recent decision by another United Nations human rights body (CERD), that the Foreshore and Seabed Act discriminates against Maori. The purpose of his visit is a 'fact finding' mission, to investigate the human rights situation of tangata whenua.

ENDS

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