Generation Zero is one of the 50+ organisations who have signed a letter to the government calling for them to continue their commitment to the UN declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
We acknowledge the severe and ongoing injustices of colonization through actions by the Crown. Now is not the time to be slowing our important work to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
To the New Zealand Government,
No matter our background, family, or where we grew up, most of us want to live in a country where all of us can be valued for who we are. Where we celebrate the unique strengths and knowledge that we bring, and all people, families and communities can set their own path to thrive.
But the laws, policies and rules of Aotearoa do not value all of us equitably. Established in the image of British colonial power, people in our successive governments have ignored our social need for honourable and just relationships with tangata whenua. We acknowledge the severe and ongoing injustices of colonisation through actions by the Crown and its governors — suppression of language, culture, institutions, and laws, and alienation of land — have created intergenerational harms in need of restoration.
As a result of that injustice, unfair divisions have been created that hurt all of us, especially whānau Māori. They harm our relationships and our ability to solve problems together so that our families, communities and wider society can flourish.
Our foundational documents, He Whakaputanga and Te Tiriti o Waitangi, gave us clear direction on how we can value all of us, and live in respectful relationship with each other. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) reflects the intentions of those documents, and connects us into a global network of people prepared to honour the strengths, knowledge and authority of Indigenous communities. Together, these documents promise relationships that benefit us all, and enable us to contribute to the wellbeing and future of Aotearoa. They strengthen our unity and relationships by honouring our differences.
As members of civil society, we are concerned about the recent indication that progress toward meeting our Declaration (UNDRIP) obligations may be put on hold at the Cabinet meeting on 19 December 2022. We’re writing to express our support for the work to continue. It offers a way forward for all of our communities, so that our mokopuna might live in a just Te Tiriti future, where restoration and healing from the harms of our shared past have taken place.
We stand in solidarity and support with Māori who are leading the UNDRIP process. We commit to working with our own communities to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi. And we ask that you keep working toward the plan in the coming year.
Lately, we’ve seen some great progress towards honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
More than one million of us have taken part in Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori. We celebrated Matariki — many of us for the first time — on its first public holiday. 32 new Māori Wards enable our councils to make great decisions for our communities and environment, with stronger representation. Te Aka Whai Ora — the Māori Health Authority — has given detail to the blueprint for how we can better organise resources and decision-making to look after everyone’s health. Unsung actions are being taken across Aotearoa by people of all backgrounds. People in businesses, schools, community and faith groups are working hard to better honour Te Tiriti.
But we’ve also seen backlash to that progress, just as other great moves toward equity from our past were met with attempts to drive us apart by stirring up fear over change.
We ask that leaders do not lose heart, or commitment to this work, which uplifts all of us and will strengthen our communities and relationships in the years to come.