3 Jul 2018

Rangatahi's UN trip: 'The UN is a western-built mechanism'

1:31 pm on 3 July 2018
The group reported their experiences to Māori Development Minster Nanaia Mahuta.

The group reported their experiences to Māori Development Minster Nanaia Mahuta. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

A group representing rangatahi Māori have returned from their trip to a UN forum where they say the organisation's overt western framework was evident from their moment of arrival.

They have reported their experiences to Māori Development Minster Nanaia Mahuta and have put forward their submissions on how to improve indigenous rights in New Zealand.

They also want Aotearoa to host the global indigenous community for their own summit.

He Kuaka Mārangaranga Rangatahi Roopu went to New York, through the Mana Foundation, to speak and learn from the forum.

Pacific Caucus co-chair Te Wehi o Mahuru Wright said the forum in New York was eye-opening.

"There were a lot of learnings for us as a rangatahi Māori group, going away to what we perceived to be an indigenous meeting, but then what you quickly realise [is that] the UN is a western-built mechanism, we realised all they were really doing is funnelling indigenous people through those western frameworks," he said.

Mr Wright said this became apparent as soon as they walked through security.

"You see a lot of indigenous people wearing all their regalia and they go through security to take it all off and then marshalled through the gates, those were the kind of frameworks and perspectives that were really evident over there," Mr Wright said.

Nanaia Mahuta

Nanaia Mahuta Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

He said it showed the group how far New Zealand has come thanks to the work of previous generations, making Māori the shining beacon to other indigenous communities.

Representatives of He Kuaka Mārangaranga Rangatahi Roopu who attended the forum presented what they thought needed to happen here in New Zealand.

This included better consultation with Māori over land and fresh water rights, Mr Wright said.

Te Huia Taylor said it was important not just for Māori but other indigenous people around the world.

"People look up to Māori so much, other indigenous, other iwi takitaki look up to us as this pedestal of what indigenous people can achieve," she said.

"It could be really easy for us to rest on that, or we could go forward and continue to push forward, because we know we are one of the leading indigenous people."

Following their trip to New York, Te Huia Taylor said they wanted to host other young leaders from global indigenous communities in Aotearoa in 2020.

Speaking to the rangatahi, Minister Nanaia Mahuta said her aspirations at their age were not unlike their own.

"What I can see evident from your presentation here, it concretised how our issues here relate to issues for other indigenous people, even that long ago we were seen as leaders, but we still had to push the boat out," Ms Mahuta said.

She was supportive of what the rangitahi wanted to achieve and for Aotearoa to host the summit.

In the meantime, the group is focusing on obtaining funding to go to Geneva, so young, Kaupapa Māori voices continue to be heard on the global stage.