22 Jul 2009

Indigenous rights issues must be protected: Minister

3:38 pm on 22 July 2009

The Minister of Justice says New Zealand's existing laws and ways of dealing with indigenous rights issues must be protected if it is to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Simon Power on Wednesday briefed the Maori Affairs select committee on officials' work into whether the declaration could be endorsed by the Government.

The previous Labour-led government rejected it, saying it was inconsistent with the country's legal and constitutional arrangements.

Mr Power says the Government will consider any risks the declaration could have on property rights, Crown resources and the historical grievance system.

He stressed it is aspirational, but not legally-binding, and any statement supporting the declaration would have to be carefully crafted to reflect that view.