It's International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples

To all indigenous peoples of the world, kia pai to rā! International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is celebrated and acknowledged every year on 9 August. 

Published: Wednesday, 9 August 2023 | Rāapa, 09 Hereturikōkā, 2023

Indigenous peoples make up 6.2 percent (476 million) of the total global population and live across 90 countries, with over 5,000 distinct cultures.

Aotearoa New Zealand is considered a multi-cultural nation. We have over 200 ethnicities across the motu who represent over 160 languages, and we have the Ministry of Pacific Peoples, and Ministry of Ethnic Communities to support Aotearoa becoming a truly diverse country where everyone can contribute to our collective cultural, economic, and social richness.

E tio te tūī, e ketekete te kākā, e korihi to kokako. It takes many instruments to make a symphony – there is strength in diversity.

As the government’s principal policy advisor on Māori wellbeing and development our vision at Te Puni Kōkiri is thriving whānau – when whānau are thriving, so do their communities, hapū, iwi and all of Aotearoa.

Under our strategic priority ‘te ao Māori’ our work aims to ensure the collective and individual rights of Māori as tangata whenua are recognised, protected, supported and invested in.

We do this by leading and partnering with other government agencies, iwi and Māori providers, as well as supporting kaupapa led by others that aligns with our vision.

Together, many milestones have been acknowledged and celebrated in te ao Māori this last 12 months including:

We are also heavily involved in supporting the pathway for international indigenous to indigenous development through collaboration arrangements between Aotearoa and Australia and most recently Canada.

The arrangements formalise each Government working together and acknowledges a shared commitment to improving the lives and wellbeing of each countries indigenous peoples, who play a pivotal role in the prosperity and wellbeing of their communities, as well as the contribution they make to the national economy.

The purpose of the arrangements is to promote and facilitate the economic, social, cultural, and environmental advancements of indigenous peoples through relationship development, improved knowledge sharing, and stronger collaboration.

Our mahi also involves ensuring our indigenous voice is represented in global fora. At the end of last year Aotearoa New Zealand joined nearly 200 parties at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) COP-15 meeting in Canada to adopt the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF).

Te Puni Kōkiri was among the Aotearoa New Zealand delegation in Canada to ensure our concerns and priorities with respect to the rights of indigenous peoples were a focus point throughout the GBF.

It was a crucial moment where the world needed to address the loss of biodiversity while at the same time protecting the rights of indigenous peoples, their responsibilities as kaitiaki, and the traditional knowledge at the core of that kaitiakitanga.

We are also working with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) specifically on protecting the kaitiaki relationship, Mātauranga Māori and genetic resources associated with genetic materials.

Our involvement ensures that our Māori voice is heard, and cultural heritage is respected in these international discussions. By advocating for strong disclosure requirements, they aim to prevent unauthorised use and exploitation of Mātauranga Māori and genetic resources.

There is a hui, scheduled in early September in Geneva, of great significance and provides a platform for continued text-based negotiations. The goal of this meeting is to negotiate a global agreement about genetic resources and the associated traditional knowledge linked to them. The focus of these negotiations is on requiring patent applicants to disclose the origin of the genetic resources they use. This is crucial for protecting Māori traditional knowledge and genetic resources from being exploited without appropriate recognition and benefit-sharing mechanisms.

Our Te Pae Tawhiti work programme identifies 11 priorities and nine focus areas including international collaboration arrangements, biodiversity, WIPO and more. It seeks to create sustainable economic opportunities based on our unique place in the world, enhance cultural identity, and protect and restore the wellbeing of our environment.

Delivering the work programme is likely to extend over several years as some issues are complex and will require many parts of the public sector to work together.

However, we will continue to work alongside Māori, and government agencies here in Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally, to achieve the best outcomes for all of Aotearoa New Zealand, and to ensure the collective and individual rights of Māori as tangata whenua are recognised, protected, supported and invested in.