Thursday March 22, 2018   Last updated 21:15PM

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Indigenous declaration finding place in Aotearoa
Dr Claire Charters speaking at the UNDRIP Conference in Wellngton NZ 2017 ©

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An expert in indigenous peoples' rights in international and constitutional law says the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is affecting the way New Zealand courts and tribunals view Maori issues.

University of Auckland associate law professor Claire Charters is one of the speakers at a conference at Te Papa in Wellington to mark the 10th anniversary of the declaration.

She says the latest report on by the United Nations Committee to Eliminate Racial Disrimination, which cited the declaration in considering the New Zealand government's actions on issues like the Ihumatao special housing development, shows it is being used at international level.

And while there is resistance from some parts of government, other parts are embracing it.

"Part of the legitimacy comes from the fact Maori along with other indigenous people participated in the drafting of the declaration and now we see it through its use through it being argued in our courts. We have a number of decisions now from our highest court, the Supreme Court, where the declaration is mentioned. The Waitangi Tribunal is using it to assist in the interpretation of Treaty of Waitangi principles," Claire Charters says.

New Zealand doesn't score well on compliance because of deep seated opposition to indigenous self-determination and the fact the Treaty of Waitangi can't be enforced unless it it legislated for.


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