22 Apr 2010

Maori claim shows declaration not just symbolic - Labour

9:09 pm on 22 April 2010

The Labour Party is questioning the Government's claim that the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Rights is just aspirational and symbolic.

The Government affirmed the declaration on Tuesday, three years after New Zealand was one of only four countries to vote against it.

Maori tribe Nga Puhi is now attempting to use the declaration to claim land where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in the Bay of Islands.

During Parliament's question time on Thursday, Labour deputy leader Annette King asked Prime Minister John Key about his comments that the declaration is an aspirational document.

"Why, two days later, has the first claim to the UN under Article 32 of the declaration been lodged by the hapu from the Nga Puhi tribe seeking the return of 2490 acres of land known as the Treaty Grounds in the Bay of Islands?"

Speaking on Mr Key's behalf, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English told MPs the attempt is a complete waste of time.

"The so-called claim by Mr David Rankin I think is well known to all of us. It can't be a claim, it's completely irrelevant and I advise him not to waste the price of a postage stamp on it."

Mr English says the Government has a well-established process for dealing with Treaty claims.