The mega prison set to be built in Waikato has spurred 10 young Māori from Aotearoa Youth Leadership Institute to present at the United Nations Indigenous Forum in April saying the proposed building will be built on Māori land that was confiscated under the Public Works Act. The group will also present on the effects of colonisation on Māori health and is lead by Julia Whaipooti, an advocate for systemic change. She explains to Kawekōrero that financial barriers are often why many indigenous groups, like the AYLI group, cannot attend such indigenous forums. The total cost for the AYLI group to attend is $60,000 which they hope to raise via crowdfunding forum, Give A Little.
"I think it highlights the issues around inaccessibility around the United Nations, this is an indigenous forum and it's really difficult to get indigenous people to access that forum, and yet we can have states and our Government who get to go over and talk and they're paid and resources to get to these places.
The group who are mostly women are also presenting on the effects of colonisation on Māori health, the health care system's structural racism and the negative representations of Māoritanga in the media being a huge influencer in rangatahi suicide statistics.
"If we look at the whakapapa of the UN forum, this is not the be all and end all, but it is an avenue we should use if we're privileged enough to get to access it," says Whaipooti.
The group leave for New York on April 11, 2018.