Iwi strengthen bond with United Nations

By Harata Brown

A delegation is set to meet with representatives from the United Nations in the hope that they receive a unique gift as a symbol of Māoridom's endorsement of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

The Māori Tū delegation is flying out to New York in the hope that the United Nations will agree to receive a special Māori Bronze Storehouse.

"The idea of it is to create a conversation in around the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples through the gifting of this to show iwi Māori support for it," says Director of Te Puia NZ Māori Arts and Crafts, Karl Johnstone.

Through the Iwi Leaders Forum, Māori Tū was mandated by 68 iwi who endorsed UNDRIP. This particular gift aims to also provide a direct link for Māori to the United Nations.

"This initial delegation is going to engage in the conversation in and around the gift of deed policy. So whether or not the UN will actually accept the gift," says Johnstone.

In 2010, the NZ Government formalised its support for UNDRIP in the hope to restore New Zealand's mana in addressing indigenous rights. Māori Tū also hopes to place the wooden version somewhere within New Zealand's Parliament.

"Well this kaupapa is about the Maori Nations. The UN is obviously a State Based organization, but there is a conversation when you have kaitiaki like the UN presiding over Declarations like the Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous People to have direct conversations with iwi Maori. These are our rights that that declaration proctects and it's only right that we have those conversations directly," says Johnstone.

Although UNDRIP is not a legally binding instrument under international law, it sets out particular rights of indigenous peoples as well as their rights to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions, and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations.

"And those minimun standards have been supported and ratified by the NZ Government and the next step for us is for iwi Maori to give our support for UNDRIP in order to start to consider how those articles can be considered back here as we legislate," says Johnstone.

The delegation will be in New York for a week.