United Nations Indigenous Rights Experts to visit New Zealand

United Nations Indigenous Rights Experts to visit New Zealand

April 9, 2019

A group of independent indigenous experts from the United Nations are visiting New Zealand to assist Government and Iwi to develop a strategy and plan for the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The delegation is comprised of members of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) which provides states with expertise and advice on the rights of Indigenous peoples.

These experts will meet with government and also want to hear directly from Iwi, Māori communities and organisations about how the rights in the Declaration can be put into action in Aotearoa.

“The visit is an exciting opportunity which the Human Rights Commission hopes will set the platform for Government and Iwi to work together to enable real progress for Māori human rights. We are keen to bring our human rights expertise to this process, so far as tangata whenua wish,” said Paul Hunt, the Chief Human Rights Commissioner.

Last week, the Government announced its decision to work with Iwi towards its implementation of the Declaration.

“An action plan will help identify concrete steps to put the rights and standards contained in the Declaration into practice. We need to ensure a coordinated approach and adequately measure and track progress for Māori communities,” said Paul Hunt.

“We are delighted that EMRIP has accepted our invitation to assist with the development of an implementation strategy and plan,” said Professor Margaret Mutu, spokesperson for the National Iwi Chairs who issued the invitation to the UN indigenous experts.

“We have been reporting to the EMRIP since 2015 in an attempt to get successive governments to implement the Declaration. Implementing the Declaration provides us with opportunities to improve outcomes for whānau Māori and all New Zealanders.”

“Through implementing the Declaration, we have an opportunity to give effect to Te Tiriti and provide constitutional certainty about the rights and responsibilities of all New Zealanders; a real opportunity to unite all New Zealanders,” said Professor Mutu.

At the end of the visit, the experts are likely to provide recommendations as to how to implement the Declaration.

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the United Nations in 2007 and supported by New Zealand in 2010. It sets out human rights standards that align with and support our Treaty of Waitangi and has been described as “a blueprint for implementing Te Tiriti”. 

The New Zealand Government has announced it will work with Iwi and Māori to develop a strategy or action plan for the Declaration.  

The three expert members of the UN body known as the ‘EMRIP’ have agreed to provide advice on developing an action plan or strategy to support the Declaration, and how this could be done through an inclusive process that is in line with global best practice.

They want to hear from Māori communities and organisations:  

·         about how the Declaration is being implemented in Aotearoa 

·         any policies, strategies or good practices already in place 

·         what is needed from any action plan that is developed to advance the Declaration.   

The EMRIP members have been invited to New Zealand by the Aotearoa Independent Monitoring Mechanism for the Declaration and the Human Rights Commission, and with the agreement of the New Zealand Government.  Events during the visit are being held with the support of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, New Zealand’s Māori Centre of Research Excellence.

The visit is not to review or judge New Zealand’s progress so far, but is to assist the Government, Māori and others to strengthen implementation of the Declaration going forward. 

Further information about the EMRIP can be found here.