Human Rights Commissioners visit Ihumātao

Human Rights Commissioners visit Ihumātao

July 26, 2019

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt and Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo are visiting Ihumātao this afternoon (Friday 26 July).

“We are here to respectfully look, listen and learn,” said Paul Hunt.

“The Human Rights Commission acknowledges the mamae felt by many and the historic injustices that have led to the protest at Ihumātao.”

Hunt said the dispute at Ihumātao raises profound and difficult issues for Aotearoa New Zealand.

“In working towards a lasting solution there are complex cultural, legal, economic, political, historic and human rights aspects to this case that need to be considered.”

“New Zealand has endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which provides valuable guidance. The Commission is urgently looking at how international human rights thinking, including the Declaration, could contribute to a solution,” said Hunt.

“There are several issues facing the mana whenua and all other participants involved in the dispute. We need to bring together a range of perspectives to identify ways of resolving this dispute in an enduring way.”

Hunt said one of the perspectives that could help work towards a solution is an understanding of New Zealand’s International Human Rights obligations in this area.

“Human rights provide insights about justice, dignity, and wellbeing of individuals and communities, which can contribute to identifying a fair way forward.”

For more information contact: [email protected] or 022 0386 751.

More information

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) applies to the dispute at Ihumātao. New Zealand endorsed UNDRIP in 2010 which is a comprehensive international human rights document on the rights of indigenous peoples. It sets out the minimum standards for the survival, dignity, well-being, and the rights of the world’s indigenous peoples.

  • Article 8 of the Declaration which pertains to the right of "prevention and redress for any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing indigenous populations of their lands, territories or resources.
  • Article 19 that pertains to "effective consultation on matters affecting indigenous peoples.
  • Article 25 pertains to “Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations in this regard.
  • Article 28 (1)  also pertains to “ Indigenous peoples have the right to redress, by means that can include restitution or, when this is not possible, just, fair and equitable compensation, for the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used, and which have been confiscated, taken, occupied, used or damaged without their free, prior and informed consent.
  • Article 28 (2) also states that “Unless otherwise freely agreed upon by the peoples concerned, compensation shall take the form of lands, territories and resources 11 equal in quality, size and legal status or of monetary compensation or other appropriate redress”

The UN’s International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights Committee made a recommendation in 2017:

Take effective measures to ensure compliance with the requirement of obtaining the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples, notably in the context of extractive and development activities, and conduct social, environmental and human rights impact assessments prior to granting licences for extractive and development activities and during operations;

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination made the following recommendation after submissions from groups involved in the dispute at Ihumātao:

The Committee recommends that the State party review, in consultation with all affected Maori, the designation of Special Housing Area 62 to evaluate its conformity with the Treaty of Waitangi, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other relevant international standards, and that the State party obtain the free and informed consent of Maori before approving any project affecting the use and development of their traditional land and resources.

The UN Guiding Principles on (UNGP) on Business and Human Rights is also applicable to the dispute at Ihumātao. They are designed to guide the actions of businesses. It has three pillars known as the Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework, comprising:

  • the State duty to protect human rights
  • the corporate responsibility to respect human rights
  • the need for rights and obligations to be matched to appropriate and effective remedies when breached.