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NEW ZEALAND. Maori Party: Declaration good for Maori, good for the nation

The Maori Party has welcomed the Government’s decision to adopt the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“This is a proud moment for this Government and Aotearoa,” co-leader Tariana Turia said in response to this morning’s announcement in New York that the declaration, which sets a standard for the treatment of indigenous peoples, has been accepted without any caveats.

“This document has been 22 years in the making and many of our own Maori people, including, Nganeko Minhinnick, Aroha Mead and Moana Jackson, have played a vital role in advocating it, so we must honour them for today’s achievement.”

September 13, 2007 was a day of great sadness for Maori as the then Government denied a place for the declaration in Aotearoa while some 143 nations signed up to it, Mrs Turia said.

“It takes courage to move us forward as indigenous peoples and the National-led Government is to be commended, and today’s announcement rectifies the blot on this country’s international reputation.

“Dr Sharples has been a constant advocate as have the Maori Party caucus.”

Mrs Turia said while the declaration was non-binding, it would keep the Government accountable on matters concerning indigenous peoples and their human rights.

“The declaration reinforces this Government’s international reputation on human rights and its accountability back to the United Nations.”

Mrs Turia said those people who worked tirelessly and passionately on the declaration, who had since died, must be remembered including Alec Whiti-te-Ra Kaihau, Dr Erihapeti Rehu-Murchie and Dame Miraka Szaszy.

“We will always remember their unrelenting leadership that has brought us to today.”

It is estimated that indigenous peoples make up six per cent or 370 million of the planet’s population – a population that the United Nations says is more vulnerable to having their culture and language, land rights, natural resources and health damaged.






Rahui Katene: Declaration Speech

Declaration Speech
Rahui Katene, Mp For Te Tai Tonga
Tuesday 20 April 2010, 2.30pm

This morning in our early dawn, over in New York more than two thousand indigenous peoples rose to their feet to give a rousing ovation to the historic decision of the New Zealand to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Immediately the wires were hot – proclaiming New Zealand backs indigenous rights.

It is time now to celebrate, to consolidate and to be proud to stand alongside of some 143 other nations throughout the world who are prepared to back indigenous peoples.

Today is an historic day in which we finally right the wrong that was done on 14 September 2007 - the Labour Government’s bizarre decision to oppose a declaration which at its very essence, sets a minimum standard of human rights for indigenous peoples.

Today is a day in which we mihi to those champions, the indigenous advocates, the Maori leaders, activists, academics who have devoted so much of their time and resources to achieve the outlawing of discrimination against indigenous people.

We think of all those who have passed on before experiencing this incredible moment – Irihapeti Murchie; Alec Kaihau, Dame Mira Szaszy.

We think of those of our people who have lived with the Declaration for nigh on 22 years – Nganeko Minhinnick who was there at the very beginning; Aroha Mead; Moana Jackson who was the chair of the indigenous forum for five important years.

And we also recognise our own Hone Harawira who has been such a passionate advocate within the larger movement.

And there are many more in our thoughts today who can claim the success as theirs – who can be proud that they have stood tall to support the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions.

And we join with the people who have been sending emails all day in excitement and in celebration of this very important day.

And we say congratulations to the Government for taking this very important decision.

This is a very important day for our parliament.

We are somewhat surprised that there has been an issue raised around how the Declaration sits within the domestic laws. This was a statement built into the text of the declaration when it was adopted in 2007, by way of Article 46, so it is a non-issue.

I also have to say that the Labour Government when it was in Government, had every change to water down the declaration and the only thing that they regret was that they were unable to water it down any further.

It is a day for celebration; a day when Aotearoa is proud to move forward on the path of justice, dignity and fundamental freedoms for all.




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