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State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2010 - New Zealand

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 1 July 2010
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2010 - New Zealand, 1 July 2010, available at: [accessed 15 December 2017]
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.

The indigenous Maori make up around 15 per cent of New Zealand's population and have traditionally enjoyed better civil rights than many other colonized peoples, although they continue to suffer from racism and lower educational, economic and health outcomes than the majority population. In November 2009, the cabinet in Wellington signalled that it would repeal controversial legislation passed in 2004, ruling that New Zealand's foreshore and seabed belonged to the Crown and could not be transferred to Maoris. The legislation had been strongly opposed by the Maori Party, which forms part of the National-led coalition government. The UN Human Rights Council, in May 2009, called on the government to find ways of compensating Maoris for the loss of their traditional lands and pursue a review of the Act, as well as to take action to address other aspects of disadvantage suffered by Maori. Following Australia's signing of the UNDRIP in April 2009, pressure built on New Zealand to do the same. Maori Party leader Pita Sharples suggested that an endorsement was likely, however the government backed off from that position.

A survey in February 2009 by New Zealand's Human Rights Commission found that 74 per cent of respondents believed Asians, who comprise 7 per cent of New Zealand's population, suffer some level of discrimination. Attitudes towards ethnic Chinese had improved over the previous year, although opinions about ethnic Indians had become more negative, the group reported. Two school-children in the south island city of Christchurch were suspended in August 2009, after a racist attack on an Indo-Fijian student who had recently started at the school. Sixty per cent of people in the survey also believed that Pacific Islanders, who make up a further 7 per cent of the population, suffered discrimination. The Commission said that the majority of the nearly 6,000 complaints it had dealt with over the course of the year had related to racial, disability and sexual discrimination, but pointed out that New Zealand has no system of collecting official data on racially motivated crime, an issue that has previously been raised by the UN.

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