Commission report reveals progress on treaty issues

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The Human Rights Commissions annual review of Treaty of Waitangi issues shows significant progress has been made in the past year despite disagreement over the Marine and Coastal Area Bill. Of particular note was the record number of treaty settlement milestones, support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the establishment of Whanau Ora and the announcement of a constitutional review.

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres says there are plenty of challenges for 2011, but the rate of progress over the past year is a determined step forward.

Other developments highlighted in the Commissions review were the publication of several major reports by the Waitangi Tribunal; a $14 million settlement of the contemporary treaty claim of Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi; legislation giving effect to a $97 million aquaculture settlement; the approval of nine mataitai customary fishing reserves; the establishment of a co-governance framework for the Waikato River; and four more marae-based rangatahi courts.

Mr de Bres says challenges for the coming year include achieving closure on the Marine and Coastal Area Bill and maintaining the momentum in treaty settlements. Increasing M?ori participation in local government through the forthcoming representation reviews is important, as is addressing continuing social and economic inequalities experienced by Maori.

In 2011, the Commission will be initiating a programme of work on structural discrimination, with a view to promoting action to remove barriers to social and economic equality.

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