21 Dec 2017

Ingidenous rights under scholar's microscope

8:27 pm on 21 December 2017

An Auckland researcher has been given an international scholarship to investigate how United Nations guidelines on indigenous rights can be applied to New Zealand law.

Professor Andrwe Erueti

Andrew Erueti Photo: Supplied

Auckland University law lecturer Andrew Erueti has been named the Fulbright Ngā Pae o te Maramatanga Scholar recipient for 2018 and will conduct research at the Univeristy of Colorado in Boulder.

He will focus on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was endorsed by the New Zealand government in 2010.

"I'm essentially looking at the implications for that endorsement or reforms related to Māori rights in Aotearoa New Zealand," Dr Erueti said.

The declaration sets out individual and collective indigenous rights in areas such as land, resources, self-determination and self-governance.

"It's a question of taking all these rights from the UN and implementing them ... [and] seeing how they can have a concrete effect on law reform in New Zealand," he said.

Dr Erueti will work alongside James Anaya, a former United Nations special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people.

Others scholars at the university have worked with First Nation communities on issues like business and human rights and childrens' rights in state care.

"It will be a great community of scholars and legal practitioners - a great environment for working and testing out ideas," Dr Erueti said.

The Treaty of Waitangi did have limitations when it came to indigenous rights, he said.

"There's the need to look at alternative ways in which to evaluate indigenous rights reform and seek inspiration for new reforms."

Māori had sought support from the United Nations in the past with issues around the foreshore and seabed and abuse in state care.

However, Dr Erueti would like to see the declaration woven more into treaty claims, local advocacy and law reform.

"We need to lift the profile of what the rights are in the declaration and the different avenues for having it enforced at the international level."

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