Maori Member of New Zealand Parliament addresses UN Declaration on Indigenous rights

Hone Harawira, a member of the New Zealand Parliament addressed that body today on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

New Zealand, Canada, Australia and the United States were the only members of the U.N. to vote against the adoption of the Declaration.

He said in part: “it was with a sense of enduring shame that when the rest of the world was signing up to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007, the [NZ] Labour government of the time, without consultation with their own Maori caucus or with the wider Maori population, decided to oppose the Declaration, thus sending a clear statement to the world that as long as Labour was in power, New Zealand would oppose the fundamental rights and aspirations of Maori people.

And they openly declared that opposition, even though Maori had attended meetings all round the world for more than 20 years in support of the Declaration, and even though the draft Declaration had received the unqualified support of such national Maori icons . . . .”

The change in government with the ouster of the Labour party led the new Maori Party to open negotiations with the National Government and ultimately led to yesterday’s historic announcement by New Zealand to support the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Mr. Harawira now “congratulate[s] Prime Minister John Key and the National Party for the boldness of their decision to work with the Maori Party in recognising that M?ori do hold a special status as the indigenous people of Aotearoa, and that indigenous rights and indigenous culture are of profound importance to this country and fundamental to our identity as a nation.

And again, on behalf of the Maori Party I acknowledge the long-standing support of the Green Party for the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and their commitment to the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and United Future for their support of government’s decision to adopt the Declaration. . . .”

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