The Human Rights Commission has welcomed the Government’s announcement that an agreement has been reached on the future of disputed lands at Ihumātao.
This includes that the Government will purchase the land from Fletcher Building and that a memorandum of understanding between the Kingitanga, the Crown and Auckland Council has been signed and sets out how they will work together to make decisions about the land in the future.
“We agree this is a significant step forward for the mana whenua of Ihumātao. We also note the inclusion of three ahi kaa representatives on the rōpu whakahaere steering the development of the land,” Mr Hunt said.
“It is critical that the mana whenua of Ihumātao have the ability to be part of decision making on the future of the land which has strong spiritual, cultural and archaeological meaning for them.”
In July 2019, Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt and Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo visited Ihumātao and in August the Commission published a report advocating for a human rights approach to resolving the dispute.
Ihumātao was also visited by Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon in September 2019 soon after his appointment to the role.
“There are commitments under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other human rights treaties, which obligate the Government to protect Māori rights to land and culture. This includes full participation in decision-making and the right to restitution or redress for lands confiscated,” Mr Hunt said.
We would encourage the Government to prioritise engagement with tangata whenua over the future guardianship of the whenua – and ensure that engagement is at the highest levels of Government.