The New Zealand Maori Council has announced that it will develop benchmarks when it comes to holding the Government to account in respect of the United Nations Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, believed to be the first in the world.
The Declaration is made up of more than forty articles touching on all aspects of Indigenous rights from children and whanau to culture and community. Leading the development will be Matthew Tukaki, Executive Director of Maori Council and Chair of the National Maori Authority. Tukaki has formidable experience within the UN where he was Australia’s Representative to the United Nations Global Compact (2009-13) and was appointed to the governing board of the Institution in New York by then Secretary General Ban Ki Moon:
“Having spent a long time within the UN system I can tell you that Declarations such as this only have meaning if we are able to measure a nation States performance against the various articles. In this case we already know what needs to be measured such as a reduction in the incarceration rates, reductions in the number of Maori children in State care and so on – so development benchmarks and measuring them annually is where we need to be.” Tukaki has said
“The reality is we know what the plethora of social and economic issues are – what we don’t currently do is identify what the measurements are and what action needs to be taken. For example, Article 11 section two reads “States shall provide redress through effective mechanisms, which may include restitution, developed in conjunction with indigenous peoples, with respect to their cultural, intellectual, religious and spiritual property taken without their free, prior and informed consent or in violation of their laws, traditions and customs.” – for us its dealing with the number of outstanding Waitangi Tribunal claims, reports and recommendations. We know there is a backlog so one of the first measurements needs to be co-ordination of the backlog, identify timelines for both Government responses and implementation.” Tukaki has said
“Then of course there is Article 21 – which is very much about Indigenous peoples having the right, without discrimination, to the improvement of their economic and social conditions, including, inter alia, in the areas of education, employment, vocational training and retraining, housing, sanitation, health and social security. – that is why the Maori Council established eight national taskforces in September of last year to very much draw the various kaupapa together with solutions and performance benchmarks.” Tukaki said
“What we need to do is make the declaration meaningful, to build solutions and policies around how we can ensure we are meeting the obligations and then test and measure our performance against it. This is an opportunity to really throw those doors open and like the Prime Minister said at Waitangi – hold the Government to account – at Maori Council we choose to do that in a much more meaningful way with solutions.” Tukaki said
“That is why each year in December we will take a stock take of where we are against each of the articles and report the performance of the State and all of us in terms of the change we want. The annual report will be “What keeps Maori awake at night; how change is impacting our people”. Tukaki said
“And we are always open to working with the Crown to enact and support the change we need.” Tukaki said
There are forty -six articles in the Declaration
Matthew Tukaki from Maori Council will lead the discussion and development of the benchmarks out
Maori Council will report on progress in December each year
The Maori Council will investigate a more formal role and partnership with the United Nations and the Forum for Pacific Peoples
History of Maori Council’s involvement in the Declaration:
New Zealand Maori Council were there for all Maori and was represented by the Chair, Graham Latimer (later Sir Graham), Rangi Walker and Apa Watene. Apa was the son of Steve Watene MP who died in about 1966. Apa was a Union Leader at Gear Meat Co Petone.