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Treaty settlements and inequality topics for UN visitor

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, July 19 NZPA - A United Nations expert on indigenous peoples rights will look at issues surrounding Treaty of Waitangi settlements and socio-economic issues faced by Maori during his six day visit to New Zealand.

UN special rapporteur on indigenous human rights James Anaya arrived in New Zealand yesterday.

He will review the issues reported by his predecessor, Rodolfo Stavenhagen.

Prof Stavenhagen visited in November 2005 to investigate whether the Foreshore and Seabed Act breached Maori rights.

He recommended the Act be repealed and a constitutional review to recognise Maori rights of self-determination based on the Treaty of Waitangi and international law.

The Government plans to repeal the Act and is drafting a bill to replace it that would put the foreshore and seabed in the public domain and return Maori rights to seek customary title through the courts.

Dr Anaya said he was here to listen to the Government and to Maori people and to meet specialists and academics on Maori issues.

He said he would follow-up the core issues raised by Prof Stavenhagen, particularly treaty settlement and socio-economic issues.

"I'm particularly interested in advances that have been made since my predecessor's visit and identifying some of the ongoing challenges and being able to make any suggestions that might be useful."

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres and the Human Rights Chief Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan met Dr Anaya this morning.

Mr de Bres said they had discussed a wide range of issues, including Maori representation on the new Auckland Council.

Mr de Bres said he expressed to Dr Anaya the hope that the Maori seats issue would be raised once the council was established.

It was also important to raise the awareness of indigenous rights in the general community, he said.

Ms Noonan said there had been significant developments in the rights of Maori as a result of the Maori Party's relationship with the National Government.

Prof Stavenhagen visited New Zealand when the foreshore and seabed debate was at its peak and developments had been made, she said.

The constitutional ramifications of the treaty, inequalities that impact on Maori people and Maori representation on local government bodies were issues that remained, Ms Noonan said.

"There's not a silver bullet (solution). Many of these issues are quite complex and there have been very positive developments in New Zealand."

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