United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Twenty-Second Session. Item 3: Statement on the theme “Indigenous Peoples, human health, planetary and territorial health, and climate change: a rights-based approach”

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

Statement delivered by Gretchen Sciascia on behalf of Te Puni Kōkiri (Ministry of Māori Development)

Tēnā tātou katoa, greetings to you all.

Since we last attended this forum in-person, Indigenous communities have been disproportionately impacted by a global pandemic, economic shocks and the repeated impacts of climate change.

Addressing the climate related challenges that put our wellbeing and livelihoods at risk requires a new look at how we understand our environment based on our genealogical stories and our connected futures.

Indigenous peoples have a deep connection with the environment and its resources. Mātauranga Māori is a central component of the Māori way of life. It acknowledges that when the land is well, so are the people. As we address climate-related challenges, we need to develop collective solutions and be guided by the knowledge of our Indigenous peoples.

Earlier this year, Aotearoa New Zealand experienced major weather events which exposed disproportionate risks to Māori, and severely damaged cultural infrastructures such as marae and urupā. This in turn challenged the holistic resilience of many communities.

As we continue to come to terms with the full extent of the damage done, the Government acknowledges the iwi and hapū who led the recovery efforts in the aftermath of these events, some of whom provided shelter and food often for their entire local community.

Māori are kaitiaki, guardians, of our lands and are well placed, through Mātauranga Māori, to help address the challenges that our country, our pacific neighbours and many countries around the world are facing.

In 2022, the Government announced its first Emissions Reduction Plan and National Adaptation Plan, committing Aotearoa New Zealand to actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

And, although we continue to explore new ways to better address the climate-related impacts on Māori, it is important that the rights affirmed in te Tiriti o Waitangi/the Treaty of Waitangi, a foundational document of our country, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples are upheld.

Both documents express Māori authority to determine their own destinies and help to inform our unique position in Aotearoa New Zealand. We must ensure that Māori are centred in the discussions on mitigating and adapting to climate change, and that Indigenous knowledge is more deliberately considered.

Climate change is accelerating the severity and frequency of major weather events. We must act with urgency to understand the risks and minimise the impacts on our lands, territories, cultural infrastructures and the overall wellbeing of our Indigenous communities.

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


We use cookies and other tracking technologies to improve your browsing experience on our website, to analyze our website traffic, and to understand where our visitors are coming from. You can find out more information on our Privacy Page.