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Indigenous peoples in Aotearoa (New Zealand)

Māori, the Indigenous people of Aotearoa, represent 15% of the 4.5 million population.

The gap between Māori and non-Māori is pervasive: Māori life expectancy is 7.3 years less than non-Māori; household income is 78% of the national average; 45% of Māori leave upper secondary school with no qualifications and over 50% of the prison population is Māori. 

Legislation 

The Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the British and Māori in 1840. There are two versions of the Treaty, an English-language version and a Māori-language version.

The Māori version granted a right of governance to the British, promised that Māori would retain sovereignty over their lands, resources and other treasures and conferred the rights of British citizens on Māori.

The Treaty has, however, limited legal status; accordingly, protection of Māori rights is largely dependent upon political will and ad hoc recognition of the Treaty.

New Zealand endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2010. New Zealand has not ratified ILO Convention 169.

Yearly update

In 2014, Māori were dealt a blow with poor party representation in Parliament and a human rights situation attracting the concern of a host of international bodies.

Positively, the Outcome Document of the WCIP may prove a useful lobbying tool, the Waitangi Tribunal affirmed that the Treaty did not cede sovereignty, police apologised to Tuhoe for the 2007 “terror” raids, and significant progress was made on Treaty settlements.

Download the 2015 yearbook article on indigenous peoples in Aotearoa to learn more about major developments and events during 2014.

Read the 2012 yearbook article on indigenous peoples in Aotearoa to learn about major developments and events during 2011 (internal link)