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  • New Zealanders celebrate the endorsement of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in New York in 2010.

    New Zealanders celebrate the endorsement of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in New York in 2010. | Photo: United Nations

Published 18 April 2019

Minister Mahuta aims to establish an overall Māori action plan as the first in the world to be implemented within the purview of the United Nations (U.N.) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

New Zealand’s Minister for Māori Development Nanaia Mahuta will travel to the United States to present the Oceanic country’s Indigenous rights record to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York on April 22.

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"We will be the first in the world to have a plan that can hold the government to account on how it is making progress on Indigenous rights," the minister for Māori development remarked about setting an example for Indigenous peoples across the world.

“I want to promote what Aotearoa New Zealand is doing to address Indigenous issues. I know that tikanga Māori must add value to this country’s international reputation. At the core of what I am advocating at the UN will be New Zealand’s own roadmap to the United Nation's Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

Mahuta aims to establish an overall Māori action plan as the first in the world to be implemented within the purview of the United Nations (U.N.) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

"We have made good progress in te reo (language) Māori, with legal protections and programs for the revitalization, and through iwi (nation) radio, Māori TV, and education,” the minister explained after a high-level U.N. delegation from the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples visited the country.

"Other countries look to what we are doing," Mahuta stated, at the time, and added that the visiting delegation was formally introduced to several Māori leaders and groups as well as some government officials.

The Māori Development minister has remarked that New Zealand is seen as a world leader regarding Indigenous peoples affairs, specifically the language, education and economy systems.

However, according to statistics, there is a disparity in the area of health since figures show that Māori die seven years earlier than non-Māori people.

"Health is an area we have recognized we need to do more as a country to reduce those systemic inequities," Mahuta said.

Māori are also twice as likely to die from cardiovascular disease or heart failure, and have rheumatic heart disease rates five times higher.

“I hope to have an open dialogue in New York with the representatives of other Indigenous nations on the real benefits that Indigenous models can bring to policy development and the delivery of public services,” Mahuta said.

The Declaration was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 2007 and defines the minimum standards necessary for the "survival, dignity and well-being of indigenous peoples of the world."

There are 46 articles which recognize the rights of Indigenous peoples to self-determination, being able to maintain their own languages, being able to protect their natural and cultural heritage and manage their own affairs.

New Zealand was among four country that rejected the Declaration, along with Australia, Canada and the United States, but reversed its decision in 2010.

The minister will participate in a World Indigenous Business Forum discussion as well as ANZAC service in Toronto.

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