Iwi Māori have taken the government to task about its lack of implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Members of the Monitoring Mechanism, an independent working group set up by the National Iwi Chairs Forum, recently tabled their second report with the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a UN body comprising 5 experts on indigenous peoples’ rights that meets annually in Geneva.
“Our report focused on Māori participation in decision making and looked at three specific case studies – local government, the treaty claims settlement process and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement,” says Professor Margaret Mutu, the Chair of the Monitoring Mechanism.
“The report highlights the failings of the government to engage with Māori. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples affirms the right of Māori to engage in decisions that affect them – the New Zealand government has yet to seriously consider what this means in the context of local government, the treaty claims settlement process and their obligations when negotiating international agreements.”
Professor Mutu, who also chairs Te Runanga o Ngati Kahu, says the Monitoring Mechanism tried to engage with the government on the issues but was rebuffed.
"They do not want to talk about the declaration. In fact Chris Finlayson sent a letter back in 2011 to the Te Hiku iwi chairs telling them he would not allow any mention of the declaration in anything to do with the treaty or our treaty settlement. That is a very very bad mistake on his part in terms of the country's international obligations," she says.
Professor Mutu says the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples can be seen as a blueprint for implementing Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
The report of the Monitoring Mechanism was well-received by the experts of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as well as indigenous peoples’ representatives and some states. It can be read on the link below.