Indigenous Rights in New Zealand
Today will be a turning point for New Zealand.
The government is to debate and decide whether Maori seats will be allocated to the new Auckland Council. The proposal is for two Maori seats out of 20. This is an important decision because Maori, as the indigenous people of New Zealand-Aotearoa, want recognition as the first people of Aotearoa.
What is significant is that Maori chiefs and representatives of the English Crown (the colonials) signed a treaty in Waitangi and around other parts of New Zealand in 1840, agreeing to shared sovereignty in this country. It has never been formally enacted since then.
And today we have one very right-wing political party, albeit minor party, holding the New Zealand government to ransom over this issue. The New Zealand parliament is made up of a coalition of the National Party (centre-right), the ACT Party (right wing) and the Maori Party.
A hikoi (march) about this issue and about the amalgamation of local government in Auckland took place up the central street of downtown Auckland in May this year with a very strong message that Maori must have formal representation by way of at least two seats on the new Auckland Council.
If this is determined today in Parliament, one way or the other, it will no doubt cause much protest from a range of quarters. But the correct answer is for the Maori seats to become a reality. This is acknowledgement of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Today will be a turning point, possibly a tipping point, for New Zealand.