A new resource explaining the link between human rights, te Tiriti o Waitangi and co-governance has been released today by Te Kāhui Tika Tangata Human Rights Commission.
One of the Commission’s functions under the Human Rights Act is to promote a better understanding of the human rights dimensions of theTreaty of Waitangiand their relationship with domestic and international human rights law.
“The fact-sheet helps people to unpack why we have co-governance and similar arrangements in Aotearoa New Zealand, and how they are consistent with a modern, liberal democracy,” says the Commission’s Rongomau Taketake|Indigenous Rights Governance Partner Claire Charters.
“When we look internationally, we find that the New Zealand approach to co-governance aligns with countries like Finland, Norway, Sweden, and the United States, where governance and management is shared between the government and the Indigenous peoples.”
Co-governance done well, not only benefits Māori, but opens opportunities for everyone to benefit,” says Charters.
This idea of shared governance and management is consistent with the international human rights obligations of states, as outlined in the International Bill of Rights and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
In the Aotearoa context, it is bolstered by te Tiriti o Waitangi.
“In order to achieve our universal human rights, states must make allowances for self-determination, and that is reflected with the guarantee of tino rangatiratanga (self-determination) in article two of te Tiriti o Waitangi.
“In this sense te Tiriti o Waitangi was ahead of its time and is New Zealand’s own unique statement of human rights reflected in the four articles.Article three, for example, ensures that all citizens, including Māori, have ōritetanga (equality).
The resource highlights that co-governance arrangements, which enable Māori to manage issues and be involved in making decisions that affect Māori, can help to address entrenched inequalities Māori experience across numerous areas, including health, justice, employment, housing, and income.
“In practice, the exercise of tino rangatiratanga, self-determination and manaakitanga has been seen in the swift and effective response of iwi, hapū, marae and Māori organisations in numerous emergency situations, including the Christchurch earthquakes, Covid-19 response and Cyclone Gabrielle.
“We hope the fact-sheet is a useful introduction to the human rights and te Tiriti o Waitangi basis for co-governance,” says Charters.