Recommended.co.nz | Guide2.co.nz | Voxy.co.nz | Gimme.co.nz
Homepage | login or create an account

Claims using declaration time wasting - English

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Bill English
Bill English

Wellington, April 22 NZPA - It is a "total waste of time" for Maori to try make claims under a United Nations declaration on indigenous rights that New Zealand has just endorsed, Acting Prime Minister Bill English says.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples this week flew to New York without publicly revealing he was to make a speech endorsing the declaration.

In Parliament today it was revealed that Cabinet made the decision about the declaration on March 22 and then Maori Television Service (MTS) was informed early in April but no other media nor the public were told.

The previous Labour government had refused to sign the declaration concerned about how it could be used domestically.

Already since the endorsement Ngapuhi academic David Rankin has written to the UN Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee asking for a process to be set in place for the Treaty Grounds at Waitangi to be returned to his hapu -- Te Matarahurahu.

The request was under Article 32 of the declaration, which requires states to obtain free and intelligent consent before doing anything that affects the land of indigenous people.

High Court judge Sir Edward Taihakurei Durie has said the signing of the declaration was the most significant day for Maori rights since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. Sir Edward said the declaration was meaningful and international agreements would filter down into law over time through both governments and the courts.

The areas of the declaration that said indigenous peoples should be dealt with through their own institutions had "potential implications" for the Office of Treaty Settlements, Crown Forest Rental Trust, Waitangi Tribunal and those developing social service policy, he said.

Public law expert Mai Chen has also said it will have greater implications than the Government thinks.

Prime Minister John Key has described the declaration as aspirational but with no practical effect as New Zealand law and the Treaty of Waitangi transcended it.

In Parliament Mr English agreed with Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson who said the declaration could not be used to support claims such as for the Treaty Grounds.

"It was predictable, but still disappointing, that some fantasists and bush lawyers would use New Zealand's affirmation of the (declaration) as a basis for these sorts of groundless claims," Mr Finlayson said.

Mr English also said those who thought making a claim under the declaration would make any difference were fantastists.

"I say to claimants that it is a total waste of time to imagine that they can make some kind of claim under this declaration. The Government has a framework in place for dealing with Treaty of Waitangi claims, and we are dealing with them much more successfully than the previous Labour government ever did."

Labour deputy leader Annette King asked about the secrecy around the announcement and why Mr Key gave the impression, when asked by a journalist on April 14, that no final position had been reached.

"The Government has been quite open about the fact that it has been considering affirming the declaration," Mr English said.

"In fact, the Prime Minister has been talking about it since April 2009, and he correctly said no announcement had been made."

The ACT Party disagrees with endorsing the agreement and was not told in advance -- despite no surprises being part of its support agreement with the Government.

ACT MP David Garrett asked when MTS was told about the trip and Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector Tariana Turia said the broadcaster was briefed in confidence on April 9 to enable it to send a reporter and a camera operator to New York in time for the announcement.

About Guide2.co.nz : Politics

Find the latest politics and election news, 'how to' guides and party policies on Guide2Politics.

 

Your Questions. Independent Answers.