Māori should utilise the UNDRIP - Professor Mutu

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

The inaugural forum on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is being held in Auckland tonight, which is nearly 10 years since it was adopted. So what does it mean for New Zealand and what difference has it made?

The NZ Human Rights Commission is holding the first forum on the UNDRIP in a bid for Māori to become more informed about it. 

“If we reinforce and utilise the Declaration, perhaps it will gain more authority when pursuing claims and issues important to Māori,’ says Hēmi Pirihi, Māori manager at the NZ Human Rights Commission.

Meanwhile, Professor Margaret Mutu says Māori need to utilise the UNDRIP.

“From what I've observed, this government will not listen. However, if Māori stand up for their rights and say, this is my land, I have historical accounts, I will speak on behalf of my human rights.”

In 2010, former Māori Affairs Minister Sir Pita Sharples led a delegation from NZ to sign the Declaration.  Earlier this year, both Professor Mutu and the NZHRC presented reports to the UN on the government's non-support of Māori rights, concerns relating to treaty claims, regional councils and the TPP.

Professor Mutu says, “It's not a waste of time because the United Nations has seen what the government has done, and we've highlighted their discrimination of our rights.”

A Speakers Forum will be held each month across the country ahead of next year's 10th anniversary of the UNDRIP.