UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The Declaration plan will help to measure New Zealand’s progress in addressing indigenous rights and interests.

Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta meets with indigenous Mapuche people of Chile at a pou gifting and naming ceremony in Chile, March 2019. Photo Credit: Catalina Le-Bert.


The Declaration Plan


About the UNDRIP


The Treaty and the Declaration


Resources and publications


Updates on the Declaration plan


The Declaration plan

In March 2019, Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced that the Government will develop a plan of action to drive and measure New Zealand’s progress towards the aspirations of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the Declaration).

The Declaration plan will be developed during 2019 and include engagement with Māori in the second half of the year.

As a first step, the Minister will work with her Cabinet colleagues to appoint a technical working group to help provide advice about what this partnership process should look like.

The Declaration Working Group (DWG)

In late August 2019, the DWG started their work on providing advice to the Minister for Māori Development on a plan and engagement process to progress towards the aspirations of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Aotearoa.

The group are meeting across September and October to create a report for the Minister that they will submit on 1 November 2019.

The DWG is made up of nine experts from diverse backgrounds, with four appointees from the public sector and five from the wider Māori community outside of government. Between them, there is extensive experience in Māori governance, human and indigenous rights, machinery of government, and the needs of rangatahi, wāhine Māori, and tangata whaikaha (Māori with disabilities).

The members are as follows:

  • Dr Claire Charters (Chair) – University of Auckland
  • Waimirirangi Ormsby – KĀWAI Catalyst
  • Naomi Solomon – Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira
  • Gary Williams MNZM– Kanohi ki te Kanohi Limited
  • Dr Jacinta Ruru – University of Otago
  • Emily Owen – Office of Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti
  • Judith Pryor – Ministry of Justice
  • Kayla Kingdon-Bebb – Department of Conservation
  • Tāmati Olsen – Te Puni Kōkiri

Why is having a Declaration plan important to New Zealand?

In various international forums, New Zealand is able to highlight areas where we are doing relatively well. However, we also know that there are areas where we have more work to do if we are to achieve the aspirations that the Declaration envisions.

New Zealand is often seen as a leader in indigenous rights, and a Declaration plan will show how the rubber is hitting the road by bringing greater transparency to the story that we tell internationally about our progress.

A Declaration plan will demonstrate and guide the government’s ongoing progress towards the Declarations’s aspirations.

What is meant by a Declaration plan?

We refer to a “plan” for the Declaration because the product of this work will reflect the path we are setting for Māori wellbeing in line with the aspirations of the Declaration.

After New Zealand moved to support the Declaration in 2010, it also committed to undertaking concrete measures to implement the Declaration, cooperating with indigenous peoples through their own representative institutions to develop and implement national action plans, strategies or other measures, where relevant, to achieve the Declaration’s aspirations.

While there has been some progress in New Zealand on the aspirations of the Declaration since 2010, no decicions were made on how to develop a plan or strategy.

In March 2019, the Minister for Māori Development sought Cabinet agreement to develop a plan that includes time-bound, measurable actions that show how we are making a concerted effort towards achieving the Declaration’s aspirations.

This includes actions that:

  • come from the intersect between government priorities, Māori aspirations and international indigenous rights discourse
  • contribute to enhancing the self-determination of Māori as the indigenous peoples of Aotearoa / New Zealand
  • contribute to improving intergenerational Māori wellbeing
  • demonstrate ambitious actions as opposed to business as usual

Initial options for the plan will be developed by the technical working group, and these will be brought out for discussion in the second half of 2019.

Ultimately, the preferred option will need to reflect New Zealand’s circumstances.

About the Declaration

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the Declaration) is a comprehensive international human rights document on the rights of indigenous peoples. It covers a broad range of rights and freedoms, including the right to self-determination, culture and identity, and rights to education, economic development, religious customs, health and language.

The Declaration was adopted on 13 September 2007 as a non-binding, aspirational declaration of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

It records the standards and aspirations of governments and indigenous peoples in achieving harmonious and cooperative relations, pursued in a spirit of partnership and mutual respect.

Its 46 articles cover all areas of human rights and interests as they apply to indigenous peoples.

Key themes include:

  • equality and non-discrimination;
  • education, information and labour rights;
  • rights around lands, territories and resources;
  • rights to cultural, religious, spiritual and linguistic identity, and self-determination.

The Treaty and the Declaration

The New Zealand government announced its support for the Declaration in April 2010 at the United Nations.

In keeping with our commitment to human rights, and indigenous rights in particular, New Zealand’s support for the Declaration must be understood with reference to our existing legal and constitutional circumstances, of which Te Tiriti o Waitangi is an important part.

You can read New Zealand's Statement of support here.

Resources and publications

The Rights of Indigenous Peoples: What you need to know

The Human Rights Commission produced, The Rights of Indigenous Peoples: What you need to know’, a guide that cover indigenous rights and the Declaration.

Te Reo Māori version here
English version here

Read the Declaration

Treaty of Waitangi poster

The Human Rights Commission produced a Treaty of Waitangi poster, which features the text of the Treaty of Waitangi and Te Tiriti o Waitangi with a human rights summary included.

Cabinet Paper

In March 2019, Cabinet approved a process to develop a Declaration Plan. You can read about the process here. 

Cabinet Paper - Developing a Plan on New Zealand’s Progress on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Updates on the Declaration plan

If you would like to receive updates about the Declaration plan process email: UNDRIP@tpk.govt.nz.

Like our Facebook page for updates. 

Media Releases

NZ Government makes progress on UN Rights Declaration.

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