The Commission, alongside the Massey University-based Global Centre for Indigenous Leadership, recently held a Conference to celebrate the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ 10th anniversary and discuss a pathway forward for Indigenous Rights in New Zealand.
The Conference on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was held at Te Papa from 5 – 6 September and saw New Zealand’s leading experts on the Declaration and indigenous rights come together to reflect on its relevance and impact.
Chief Human Rights Commissioner David Rutherford, who spoke at the opening of the conference, says the 10th anniversary is a significant milestone and one that allowed for necessary reflection and conversation around the Declaration.
“There are still significant gaps in the implementation of the declaration in Aotearoa New Zealand. The conference was an opportunity to assess what progress has been made in the past decade, but also to develop a strong framework for the realisation of indigenous rights in this country.
"For the benefit of future generations, we are determined to ensure that concrete steps towards achieving the ends of the Declaration are taken. The Commission will be using what has been learned and shared at the Conference to inform our work in the indigenous rights space going forward," Mr Rutherford says.
The Commission’s Kaiwhakarite Matua, Pereri Hathaway says the conference was a chance to celebrate UNDRIP but more importantly talk about the indigenous rights kaupapa for Māori.
“It was fantastic to hear from such inspirational keynote speakers including Ta Pita Sharples, Naida Glavish, Moana Jackson, and our rangatahi speaker Pania Newtown. All of our speakers brought a unique perspective around the declaration and Māori indigenous rights.
“Aotearoa has always been viewed as an exemplar in indigenous rights issues at the UN, yet we still have a lot of work to ensure the rights of Māori as tangata whenua and Treaty partners are honoured and upheld,” Mr Hathaway says.
The Commission’s own team held a workshop on day two of the conference, to talk about the role it plays in the International human rights reporting process and how it can assist people to take part.
Human Rights Specialist at the Commission, Jess Ngatai, was part of the team that presented and says that the workshop was a great way to educate people about the Commission and the work it is doing to achieve the ends of the Declaration.
“Getting in front of people and speaking with them directly is one of the best ways we can educate and inform them about the Commission’s work and our role to play in ensuring we improve outcomes for our indigenous communities.
“It was very encouraging to hear the positive feedback from those at the conference and the high level of interest from those who previously had limited knowledge of the Commission’s role, but are now wanting to engage with our services and programmes.”
The Commission is now in the process of collating the presentations and videos of the speeches given at the conference for anyone interested in checking them out and learning more. These will be available at www.hrc.co.nz in the coming weeks.