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Statement of the Indigenous Peoples Conference regarding 'holocaust’


8 September 2000.

Official Statement of the Indigenous Peoples Conference regarding 'holocaust’

Indigenous Peoples delegates, members and representatives from various countries attending an International Workshop in Wellington, Aotearoa on 8 - 10 September 2000 to discuss: The United Nations Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,

The Conference makes the following Statement:

The Waitangi Tribunal in its report of the Taranaki claim found that Maori people had suffered the effects of colonisation and invasion by New Zealand Government colonial forces. The word used by the Tribunal to describe the magnitude of the suffering by Taranaki tribes was a 'Holocaust'. The Right Honorable Tariana Turia, a Maori member of Parliament and also a representative of people from the Wanganui and Taranaki regions has affirmed the findings of the Waitangi Tribunal. She compared the effects of colonisation on Maori people as a 'holocaust'.

This Conference having substantial experience of the effects and processes of Imperialism and colonisation throughout Asia, Africa, the America’s, Australia, Hawai’i, Greenland, Artic, Aotearoa, agree with the Waitangi Tribunal and the member of Parliament, Tariana Turia. The fact that various New Zealand commentators, Politicians, media and academics have been outraged by the use of the term 'holocaust' and view the term 'holocaust' narrowly as being related only to the sufferings of the Jewish people does not alter the reality of many other peoples who have suffered systematic and brutal murder, torture, physical and mental oppression and extermination as peoples. The limited definition that Pakeha politicians and commentators place on the term 'holocaust' indicates a denial to face up to the injustice perpetrated on Indigenous Peoples by colonisation and therefore a reluctance to find meaningful long term solutions and remedies. Limiting definitions such as 'holocaust' is a manifestation of racism. Whether murder, slaughter and dispossession was achieved indiscriminately through a musket, cannon, sword, legislation or a gas chamber is irrelevant in defining the term 'holocaust'.

The Conference supports Maori people and their allies in researching the loss of life, lands and resources at the hands of the New Zealand Government.

The Conference states that the term 'holocaust' is not to be narrowly construed or defined. Indigenous Peoples claim the right to define 'holocaust' in a broad sense, encompassing the oppression and systematic extermination of Indigenous Peoples by any means engaged by the Colonial Governments.

The Conference call on the New Zealand Government to acknowledge the past wrongs of colonialism perpetuated on the Maori people and to seek meaningful steps to protect the rights of Maori people as guaranteed in the Treaty of Waitangi.

The Conference further call on the New Zealand Government to display, as an act of good will and faith toward achieving meaningful and long term settlements and peace with Maori people, the New Zealand Government will support the adoption at the United Nations of the: United Nations Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as it is currently drafted.

Thank you,

Tebtebba Foundation Inc, Philippines; International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, Denmark; Asian Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Network, India; Griqua National Conference of South Africa, South Africa; European Network for Indigenous Australian Rights, UK; National Aboriginal Institute of Legal Services, Australia; International Indian Treaty Council, USA; Fundacion para la promocion del conocimiento indigena, Panama; Defensoria Maya, Guatemala; Maori Law Commission, Aotearoa; Ngati Te Ata, Aotearoa; Te Kawau Maro, Aotearoa; Rongomaiwahine, Aotearoa; Sami Council, Norway, Sweden and Finland; Ka Lahui Hawai'i, USA.

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