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Maori 'extremely disadvantaged' - UN report

A United Nations report says Maori are extremely disadvantaged socially and economically compared to other New Zealanders.

The report was tabled in the General Assembly by the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples James Anaya, who visited New Zealand in July 2010 as a follow up to a 2005 visit by then Special Rapporteur Rodolfo Stavenhagen.

Its main focus was an examination of the process for settling historical and contemporary claims based on the Treaty of Waitangi.

During Mr Anaya's visit he travelled to Auckland, Wellington, Waitangi, Hamilton and Wanganui.

He met Prime Minister John Key and ministers, MPs, the Waitangi Tribunal, the Maori Land Court, and the Human Rights Commission.

The report found New Zealand in recent years had made significant strides to advance the rights of Maori people, but further efforts should be consolidated and strengthened.

"The Special Rapporteur emphasises the need for the principles enshrined in the Treaty of Waitangi and related, internationally-protected human rights to be provided security within the domestic legal system of New Zealand so that these rights are not vulnerable to political discretion," the report said.

Special attention should be paid on increasing Maori participation in local governance, he said.

"With respect to Treaty settlement negotiations, the Government should make every effort to involve all groups that have an interest in the issues under consideration," he said.

He said while some positive developments had been achieved since the 2005 visit, more needed to be done to achieve the increased social and economic parity necessary for Maori and non-Maori New Zealanders.

He said he could not help but notice the extreme disadvantage in the social and economic conditions of Maori people in comparison to the rest of New Zealand society.


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