Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 July 2014, 09:50 GMT

State of the World's Minorities 2007 - New Zealand

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 4 March 2007
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, State of the World's Minorities 2007 - New Zealand, 4 March 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48a9712c50.html [accessed 23 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Although similar in many respects to Australia, New Zealand handles indigenous and minority rights issues in a different way. The Maori account for close to 15 per cent of the total population of the state, a further 6.5 per cent consists of Pacific Islanders, while Asian immigrants account for another 8 per cent. The issues attendant on reconciliation between the white settlers and the Maori population are being examined by the Waitangi Tribunal, which was created by the New Zealand government in 1975. Like other Truth and Reconciliation processes, the findings of the Tribunal are not legally binding; however, they are respected by society and inform a basis for rapprochement. Progress before the Tribunal, although slow, has remained positive in 2006. While the fundamental issue of land return or compensation is at the forefront (with a Governmental Fiscal Envelope of NZ $1,000 million or US $687 million), most land claims remain outstanding, with Maori owning only 5 per cent of the country's land. Away from the land rights issues, Maori continue to face lower life expectancy and higher rates of unemployment, though the direction of the statistics would indicate the situation is improving.

Pacific Islanders have not benefited from government schemes aimed at the Maori and are disproportionately represented in unemployment statistics. They also form a higher proportion of the urban poor. The popularity of the racist New Zealand First party, at its zenith in 1996, appears to have waned (it won 5.72 per cent of support, garnering seven seats in Parliament in the 2005 elections). However, hostility has been reported towards Asian, and particularly Muslim immigrants, with vandalism of mosques in the aftermath of the 7 July 2005 bombings in London. In 2006, there were police calls for Muslim women wearing the burqa to be banned from driving – a move that sparked a public debate on issues of national identity and tolerance.

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