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UN Report: 'The situation of Maori people in New Zealand'

UN Report: 'The situation of Maori people in New Zealand'

22 February 2011

The Advance Unedited Edition of the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, 'The situation of Maori people in New Zealand' is now available at http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/unsr2010.htm

The 24 page Report includes 3 introductory paragraphs, 17 pages summarising the Special Rapporteur's findings during his follow-up visit in July 2010 on a range of Treaty of Waitangi, human rights and constitutional issues relating to Maori, and 19 paragraphs of conclusions and recommendations. The summary outline of the Report is included below.

Summary

The present report examines the situation of Maori people in New Zealand on the basis of information received during the Special Rapporteur’s visit to the country from 18-23 July 2010 and independent research. The visit was carried out in follow up to the 2005 visit of the previous Special Rapporteur, Professor Rodolfo Stavenhagen. Its principal focus is an examination of the process for settling historical and contemporary claims based on the Treaty of Waitangi, although other key issues are also addressed.

Especially in recent years, New Zealand has made significant strides to advance the rights of Maori people and to address concerns raised by the former Special Rapporteur. These include New Zealand’s expression of support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, its steps to repeal and reform the 2004 Foreshore and Seabed Act, and its efforts to carry out a constitutional review process with respect to issues related to Maori people.

Further efforts to advance Maori rights should be consolidated and strengthened, and the Special Rapporteur will continue to monitor developments in this regard. The Special Rapporteur emphasizes the need for the principles enshrined in the Treaty of Waitangi and related, internationally-protected human rights to be provided security within the domestic legal system of New Zealand so that these rights are not vulnerable to political discretion. Also, the new Marine and Coastal Area Bill should be in line with international standards regarding the rights of indigenous peoples to their traditional lands and resources.

Additionally, efforts to secure Maori political participation at the national level should be strengthened, and the State should focus special attention on increasing Maori participation in local governance. New Zealand should also ensure that consultations with Maori on matters affecting them are applied consistently and in accordance with relevant international standards and traditional Maori decision-making procedures.

The treaty settlement process in New Zealand, despite evident shortcomings, is one of the most important examples in the world of an effort to address historical and ongoing grievances of indigenous peoples, and settlements already achieved have provided significant benefits in several cases. However, steps need to be taken to strengthen this process. It is necessary to ensure funding for the Waitangi Tribunal so that it can carry out its pending caseload of historical grievances in an efficient and timely manner.

Furthermore, with respect to Treaty settlement negotiations, the Government should make every effort to involve all groups that have an interest in the issues under consideration. Also, the Special Rapporteur encourages the Government to show flexibility in its positions during settlement negotiations. In consultation with Maori, the Government should explore and develop means of addressing Maori concerns regarding the Treaty settlement negotiation process, especially the perceived imbalance of power between Maori and Government negotiators.

Finally, the Special Rapporteur cannot help but note the extreme disadvantage in the social and economic conditions of Maori people in comparison to the rest of New Zealand society. While some positive developments have been achieved since the visit of the former Special Rapporteur, more remains to be done to achieve the increased social and economic parity that is necessary for Maori and non-Maori New Zealanders to move forward as true partners in the future, as contemplated under the Treaty of Waitangi.

EBDS

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