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Open letter to Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern

Tena koe Prime Minister Ardern,

Subject: Concerns regarding risks to safety and wellbeing secondary to the potential for Crown-sanctioned violence by the New Zealand Police at Ihumātao

We are a collective of Maori Public Health Medicine specialists from across Aotearoa/New Zealand. We are writing to you regarding our concerns for the safety and wellbeing of Māori children and adults, secondary to the police presence at Ihumātao.

There is a substantive evidence-base regarding the adverse health and wellbeing outcomes both for Indigenous peoples globally, and for Māori in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Based upon previous experience, for example, the Bastion Point arrests and the unlawful police raids on Tuhoe, as well as the ongoing over-surveillance and inequitable treatment of Māori in the criminal justice system, we have no confidence that the police presence at Ihumātao will result in a peaceful resolution. In fact, we are concerned that it has the potential to cause harm to Māori children and adults participating as peaceful protectors, as are their rights, under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, ratified by the New Zealand Government.

Although Government has previously stated that it would not intervene, it could be argued that the police presence at Ihumātao indicates Government willingness from the outset to intervene in what is a peaceful land occupation.

In order to protect the safety and wellbeing of Māori children and adults from any risk of violence, we urge you as Prime Minister of Aotearoa/New Zealand to withdraw the police from Ihumātao whilst you are establishing communication between the parties.

Ngā mihi,

Dr Paula King
Dr Rhys Jones
Associate Professor Ricci Harris
Associate Professor Elana Curtis
Professor Papaarangi Reid
Associate Professor Sue Crengle
Dr Nina Scott
Dr Kēri Rātima
Professor David Tipene-Leach
Dr Tania Riddell
Associate Professor Joanne Baxter

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