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UN Forum Condemns New Zealand Government

MEDIA RELEASE - 19 August 2007

UN Forum Condemns New Zealand Government

The Treaty of Waitangi must be entrenched and the Waitangi Tribunal have binding powers on the Crown following the New Zealand Government's failure in implementing the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination.

The chairman of the Treaty Tribes Coalition, Mr Ngahiwi Tomoana, said today that the international condemnation by the U.N. forum continues to be an embarrassment for the Government, especially in relation to the Foreshore and Seabed Act.

The Concluding Observations of the CERD Committee are outlined in a 15 August 2007 report and include 16 recommendations for change.

"The Govt must concede that experts' opinions in this matter are correct. The consistent condemnation and recommendations for reform should be heeded, te Tiriti o Waitangi must be entrenched and legally become our constitution," Mr Tomoana said.

"This consistent international critique is becoming an embarrassment for New Zealand. Our identity is as an international human rights leader, and we are consistently being shown up as having serious problems."

He said it was fundamental to the rights of individuals for access to justice and the courts and due process that the Waitangi Tribunal has binding powers and becomes a properly constituted legal entity.

"The Foreshore and Seabed Act remains the most egregious and keenly felt breach of human rights in our country. Just because time has passed, it does not mean the issues have been resolved. These issues and the domestic and international pressure will not go away until a credible solution that recognises the rights of Maori is found," Mr Tomoana said.

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Mr Tomoana said that while the CERD Committee recognised that New Zealand needs to address its constitutional structure, the Treaty Tribes Coalition believes our country needs to engage in constitutional dialogue. "We cannot bury our heads in the sand about these issues any longer. It is time the Government showed leadership and entered into discussions on reform," he said.

The report concludes the 70th session of the CERD Committee held in Geneva 30 July - 17 August. As well as receiving reports from the Treaty Tribes Coalition, the committee received reports from the Race Relation Commissioners; Action for Children and Youth Aotearoa, the Maori Party, the Tribal Collective in Tai Tokerau, the Human Rights Foundation; Peace Movement Aotearoa and Aotearoa Indigenous Rights Trust.

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