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FW: UN envoy paints grim picture of Maori rights

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    UN envoy paints grim picture of Maori rights 26 November 2005 By HAYDON DEWES ­ DOMINION POST More political fallout is expected after a United Nations expert
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 25, 2005
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      FW: UN envoy paints grim picture of Maori rights
      UN envoy paints grim picture of Maori rights
      26 November 2005

      By HAYDON DEWES – DOMINION POST

      More political fallout is expected after a United Nations expert on human rights found gaps between Maori and Pakeha were not being closed fast enough.

      UN special rapporteur Rodolfo Stavenhagen painted a grim picture of Maori rights yesterday, based on nine days of meetings with Maori and government officials.

      It follows a finding by the UN's Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, in response to a complaint from Maori, that the Foreshore and Seabed Act is discriminatory
      .

      The Government has been dismissive of that report and of the committee's relevance. Prime Minister Helen Clark described the process that led to the criticism of the legislation as "most unsatisfactory" and the committee as sitting on the "outer UN system
      ".

      Professor Stavenhagen, from Mexico, said the law was particularly troubling for Maori and he hoped the Government would address those concerns when it appeared before the committee next mon
      th.

      There was also widespread concern that more Maori were being "left behind" socially and economica
      lly.

      He said Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen, during a debriefing on Thursday, acknowledged the gaps between Maori and Pakeha were a concern but believed they would be closed in about 20 y
      ears.

      Professor Stavenhagen did not think it should take that long. "If these issues are recognised as being of the highest importance nationally, then...measures may be taken to try to lower the time frame in order to achieve the closing of the gap in perhaps less
      time."

      New Zealand lacked the data to get to the bottom of disparities for Maori, he said. Better ethnic-based data was needed to develop social
      policy.

      His draft recommendations will be forwarded to the Government early next year and then made public i
      n April.

      Dr Cullen declined to comment yesterday but has said previously that the Government would listen to what was said on the Foreshore and Seabed Act, but act only on recommendations consistent with Governmen
      t policy.

      Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said it was time for problems of power inequality, which she said had led to "patronising and paternalistic" solutions for Maori, to be
      wiped out.

      "We Maori will design our own solutions and our people, with the full support of the Maori Party, are prepared and willing to do that right now. If we need assistance, we will determine who we will get it from, and how we wi
      ll use it."

      But National's Maori affairs spokesman, Gerry Brownlee, dismissed Professor Stavenhagen's "unsubstantiated and loaded"
      criticisms.

      New Zealanders did not need to be told by the UN what it meant to be a Kiwi and questioned how a person in the country only nine days could "assume to have examined 160 years of New Zealand histo
      ry", he said.

      National fought an election based on a "one law for all" philosophy, which Professor Stavenhagen has branded as risky. He said his recommendations would be objective and based on evidence. He hoped that, though not legally binding, they would be adopted by the Government. To ignore them would be contrary to "the spirit of the United Nations".
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