United Nations General Assembly: Human rights dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

Delivered by Permanent Representative, H.E. Ms. Carolyn Schwalger

Tēnā koutou katoa – Greetings to everyone.

Since we last spoke to you, Aotearoa New Zealand has completed the first part of our two-step engagement process for developing a plan to realise the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in our country.

Between September last year and this February, we held online workshops with Māori on their aspirations for a Declaration plan. A range of Indigenous groups have shared their experiences and ideas on how to give effect to the Declaration.

This is quite an achievement given that during this period Māori communities were preoccupied with responding to COVID-19 and vaccination.

Unsurprisingly, a key theme was for government to share its power and support Māori to be involved in and make decisions on issues that impact them. This applies to a range of topics, from justice, health and education to housing, the environment and cultural expression and identity.

This engagement was led by representatives of the National Iwi Chairs Forum, an organisation of Māori tribal leaders, the New Zealand Human Rights Commission and the Government. This partnership approach aligns with the guidelines provided by the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples following its visit to Aotearoa – New Zealand in 2019. This partnership has proved effective and demonstrates that we can do things in a more collaborative way.

We are now drafting a Declaration plan which will go out for public consultation. This will be the second step of the engagement process and we hope to release a final plan by the end of the year.

The timeframes are ambitious but it is time to demonstrate our commitment to Indigenous rights in Aotearoa – New Zealand, build our nationhood and uphold our international human rights obligations.

The Declaration supports the government’s commitment to build and maintain constructive relationships with its Indigenous peoples, and to achieve equitable outcomes for all. When Māori thrive on their own terms, then so too does Aotearoa New Zealand.

Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou – Many thanks to you all.


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