Aotearoa Indigenous Rights Trust welcomes
6 April 2006
The United Nations has just released the Report of its Special Rapporteur based on a visit to New Zealand in November last year. The Aotearoa Indigenous Rights Trust welcomes the independent and objective observations made by this UN report. "The challenge for the Government is to accord these observations with the respect they deserve" said Trustee Tracey Whare.
"Suggestions made by list MP Shane Jones that the Government will ignore the report are typical of Labour's Maori MPs who continually put the political whims of Helen Clark before the aspirations of their own people. The assumption that this Government thinks it is above the law and the international norms of the UN is regrettable. The days of using Maori as a political football should be confined to the dustbin of the colonial past along with the Foreshore and Seabed Act as suggested in this report"
Dr Michael Cullen assertions that Professor Stavenhagen is 'out of touch' with New Zealand are ironic given the Government's own actions in ignoring Maori submissions, letters, petitions and other rejections of the Foreshore and Seabed Bill. Promoting respect for the UN as a human rights advocacy body and then attempting to discredit it when it brings its independent analysis to the human rights of Maori is disconcerting. The fact the National Party has joined the Labour Party down this path shows how 'out of touch' the political power brokers of this country are with acceptable international practices. To repeatedly reject UN findings is unhelpful and does no credit to the country's international reputation.
Professor Stavenhagen stressed that the rights of Maori are not constitutionally recognised in New Zealand because the very mechanism by which Maori could achieve this, parliament, is dominated by a majority who are not Maori. Maori are constrained by this tyranny of the majority.
New Zealand has a long history of successive Governments refusing to acknowledge Maori rights, Professor Stavenhagen's report is critical of the Government for this and sets out some clear recommendations including constitutional change and entrenching the Treaty of Waitangi. Stavenhagen's recommendations for change are ones the Government should action, particularly the recognition of Maori rights to self- determination, which is long overdue.
For further information see A Summary of the Report of the Special Rapporteur.
Aotearoa Indigenous Rights Trust Press Release