6 May 2012

Discrimination against Maori claimed at UN

5:26 am on 6 May 2012

Amnesty International has told the United Nations that New Zealand is continuing to discriminate against Maori through the Marine and Coastal Area Act.

The organisation made a submission to the UN Committee on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights meeting in Geneva.

The committee examines all member states to assess their compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1976.

Every few years New Zealand gets looked at. This is its third assessment.

In a submission, Amnesty says the Marine and Coastal Areas Act was intended to replace discrimination against Maori in the 2004 Foreshore and Seabed Act.

But Amnesty says the new act is also discriminatory, because the customary interests it promotes exclude the right to exclusive occupation, preventing Maori from excluding the public as freehold owners can.

It notes former Attorney General Hon Simon Power agreed with this view, but justified it as a balance between the rights of Maori and the general public.