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Govt Urged To Support UN Rights Declaration

Mataatua Assembly Calls On The Crown To Support The UN Indigenous Rights Declaration

The Mataatua Assembly of Tribes (nga hapu, nga iwi, nga waka o Mataatua) fully supports the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and calls on the New Zealand government to support the adoption of this Declaration when it comes before the United Nations General Assembly in December 2006.

At the meeting of the Mataatua Assembly, held Thursday 9 November in Whakatane, the assembly confirmed its unanimous support for the Declaration, noting there are more than 370 million indigenous peoples spread across 70 countries around the world for whom this Declaration will provide their only means for protection. The Declaration if adopted will not be legally binding but it will establish an important standard for the treatment of indigenous peoples.

Mataatua are disturbed to learn that the current Minister of Foreign Affairs has continued to dismiss the Declaration as ‘deeply flawed and a lost opportunity for the world’s indigenous peoples’. The Minister has made clear his intention for New Zealand to vote against the adoption of this historical Declaration. This is an unacceptable stance that does not reflect any due democratic process between the Crown and Iwi on an issue of such significance. Government has not consulted with Iwi on Declaration since 2002 in spite of significant developments in the Declaration.

Now at this critical time when governments of the world are being asked to vote for this Declaration at the highest level of the UN system, it is incomprehensible to us that the Crown would ever seriously consider isolating itself from the majority of the world by voting against such a ground-breaking international human rights instrument.

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Government has supported Conventions and Declarations on the Rights of Women and Children, Against Forced Labour, Freedom of Association and most recently lead the drafting of the Convention Relating to Persons with Disabilities. It has supported the Conventions of International Trafficking of Endangered Animals and on Biological Diversity, and yet when it comes to Maori and indigenous peoples – it doesn’t have the heart, or good-will or faith to support the protection of Maori as indigenous peoples.

The Mataatua Assembly asks the Government to reconsider its stance on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and do the right thing for Maori and for the integrity of the Treaty of Waitangi and New Zealand by voting for the Declaration.


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