Honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Aotearoa must implement the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People

UNDRIP Open Letter

We want an Aotearoa where the worldview, values, and practices of te ao Māori are restored and respected. Where manaakitanga guides how we ensure everyone has what they need to lead full and vibrant lives. Where our relationship with the natural world is defined by kaitiakitanga, and living in balance with the land. Where relationships between tangata whenua, tangata o le moana, and tangata tiriti are stronger, fortified by shared acknowledgement of our histories.

Over the years, ActionStation has been clear about the importance of documents such as He Whakaputanga: The Declaration of Independence and Te Tiriti o Waitangi, which enable us all to thrive. We have supported Māori to express their tino rangatiratanga in a range of ways, because we genuinely believe our entire country benefits when Māori can lead according to tikanga and mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge and practices).

Unfortunately, decision-makers too easily allow our responsibilities to Te Tiriti o Waitangi to become a political football during elections and they deliberately stoke fear and create division to serve their own agenda.

In November 2022, Labour Minister Willie Jackson announced that he was considering putting the workstream to fulfil commitments under the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on hold. Also known as the Declaration or UNDRIP, it is the most substantive international document that sets out the rights of Indigenous peoples. The Declaration sets out obligations on all states, including to respect the rights of Indigenous peoples to self-determination. The New Zealand National Party Government signed up to the Declaration in 2010, but there was a lack of action on honouring these commitments, which led to a work plan being established in 2019.

After Jackson’s announcement, ActionStation, Amnesty International, Tauiwi Tautoko and Inclusive Aotearoa Collective Tāhono were concerned about the work plan being put on hold, and wrote an open letter to the Government with 60+ organisations and high-profile individuals signing their support.

Despite the shared call to keep this crucial work moving, the Labour Government decided to put this work on hold until 2024. With right wing parties already fear-mongering on “co-governance”, it is difficult not to view this as a politically-motivated decision to avoid publicly honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi during an election year.

ActionStation is disappointed that the Labour Government has sidelined its global responsibilities towards the rights of indigenous people, along with the thousands across the country who sought steps to making a truly just, inclusive, and honourable home for all of us.

Fulfilling our obligations to the Declaration in line with He Whakaputanga and Te Tiriti o Waitangi gives us hope of moving towards a country where Māori leadership is valued, our past and present harms are healed and our shared relationships are on the right path for the future.


1/ National Govt to support UN rights declaration, New Zealand Government, 20 April 2010

2/ Co-governance work put on ice, Newsroom, Dec 19 2022

3/ UNDRIP Open Letter, ActionStation Medium, Dec 14 2022

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