Government says the rights of indigenous people can wait

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PRESS RELEASE

23 December 2022

Cabinet has agreed that the Government will put on hold work to develop a plan to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). UNDRIP recognises the rights of indigenous people across a number of areas, including the right to self-determination. Aotearoa, having endorsed the Declaration over 10 years ago, has an obligation to realise UNDRIP, including the right to self determination.

This comes in the wake of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s September speech at a United Nations (UN) Summit, where she issued a number of lofty challenges to her fellow world leaders, including completely banning nuclear weapons and abolishing the UN veto power. She said, "I'm never going to hold the view that just because it's hard it can't be done."

After signalling a possible halt to the UNDRIP work earlier this month, it was reported that Minister Jackson allowed himself two weeks to be convinced. Last week, a coalition of 61 individuals and organisations across civil society, from the arts and public health to the environment, calling on Government to be bold, act on its values and continue this work.

ActionStation Director Kassie Hartendorp (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Pareraukawa) said, "Aotearoa endorsed UNDRIP over a decade ago, which in effect means we committed on the world stage to keeping our promises at home in Te Tiriti o Waitangi, to uphold Māori authority as first peoples here (Article 2). It was a courageous and bold government who began this work to chart a plan for how we do this together, and this hesitation is deeply disappointing to thousands across the country who saw in this work steps to making a truly just, inclusive, and honourable home for all of us."

It was a courageous and bold government who began this work to chart a plan for how we do this together, and this hesitation is deeply disappointing to thousands across the country who saw in this work steps to making a truly just, inclusive, and honourable home for all of us.

Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand Campaigns Director Lisa Woods said, "The irony is not lost on us. While the PM is inspirational on the global stage - which is absolutely valued and needed - by challenging leaders at the UN to do what needs to be done, she must challenge her own Government to live up to its UN obligations."

Anjum Rahman, Project Co-Lead at Inclusive Aotearoa Collective Tāhono said, "This is about creating a society where everyone can set their own path to thrive. Looking across Aotearoa there is clear and strong support for work on UNDRIP to continue. No one ever left a legacy of positive progress by giving up on the most important mahi - we call on the Government to pick up where it left off and continue work on a plan to implement UNDRIP."