Te Kāhui Tika Tangata Human Rights Commission has thanked the National Iwi Chairs Forum for considering its proposal to provide guidance and work together as it charts a path to being a Te Tiriti-based organisation.
Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt said it was a privilege to discuss its proposal to work more closely with iwi Leaders under the mantle of ‘Te Hā o Te Tiriti’.
“We are committed to active engagement and dialogue with tangata whenua on tino rangatiratanga and kāwanatanga by activating tikanga, mātauranga Māori and the practice of wayfinding as we chart the course to becoming a Tiriti-based organisation.”
Hunt committed to strengthening the Commission’s tangata whenua Ahi Kaa team within the Commission so that it is well-positioned to give effect to Te Tiriti.
Chief Commission Paul Hunt, Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon and Pou Ārahi Tricia Keelan represented the Commission at the Forum with Ahi Kaa team members Hemi Pirihi and Paula Pirihi.
Professor Margaret Mutu (Ngāti Kahu) chairs the Aotearoa Independent Monitoring Mechanism that monitors New Zealand's compliance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a member of National Iwi Chairs Forum.
"We believe that by assisting the Commission to become a Tiriti-based organisation, whānau will enjoy greater protection and advocacy for their human rights. We expect that they will learn how to celebrate Rangatiratanga and promote it across the public sector,” Professor Mutu said.
“Through transformations like this we are hopeful that the government will truly honour Te Tiriti and all New Zealanders will participate in an inclusive society, because the treaty belongs to all of us, not just Māori. The National Iwi Chairs are excited about the possibilities this initiative promises.”
The Race Relations Commissioner said the Commission’s ‘Te Hā o te Tiriti’ approach is more than just transforming it to become a Tiriti-Based Organisation.
“It is about us as a Crown agency being honest and authentic – stepping up to the plate to give life to the Tiriti in today’s context. Many have attempted – but we believe have fallen short of the mark. That’s not a position we plan to be in,” said Foon.
“Working alongside and acknowledging the mana and tino rangatiratanga of tangata whenua for iwi, hapū, Māori communities, leaders, other public and private sector organisations and communities.”
Tricia Keelan joined the Commission as Pou Ārahi in February to lead this Te Hā o Te Tiriti kaupapa and Ahi Kaa. Ahi Kaa is the Commission’s Te Tiriti and Indigenous Rights rōpū.
“Ahi Kaa’s kaupapa is to breathe life into Te Tiriti and advance indigenous rights activation. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to engage with the National Iwi Chairs forum with the support of the UNDRIP Monitoring Mechanism chaired by Professor Margaret Mutu,” said Keelan.
“Te Kāhui is taking steps to demonstrate authentic Te Tiriti based leadership in solidarity alongside Iwi. We aim to contribute to addressing 180 years of colonisation that has deprived tangata whenua of their lives, beliefs, language, culture, sovereignty, self-determination, lands and futures."
"We believe that honouring Te Tiriti benefits all New Zealanders and look forward to supporting the National Iwi Chairs vision of kotahitanga and their priorities including constitutional transformation, flourishing whānau, caring for our natural world in reciprocity and addressing climate change.”