Māori Party Co-leaders Marama Fox and Te Ururoa Flavell are highly supportive of having a New Zealander as UN Secretary General but say they cannot at this time support the bid by former Labour Party Leader Helen Clark.
“We’d love to support our own but we can’t in good conscience take the populist route of backing her bid. Helen Clark has many qualities that would help with being an effective Secretary General but her actions against Māori as the Labour Prime Minister cause us to doubt her attitude toward indigenous peoples,” Mrs Fox says.
Mr Flavell says that as leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister Helen Clark supervised a law that removed the right of Māori to go to court to test a property right.
“In doing so she took away a fundamental human right. Further to that, she supervised the biggest modern day confiscation of land from Māori and she refused to sign the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a document sponsored by the United Nations which she now wishes to head,” he says.
“She also supervised the invasion of Māori communities in Taneatua and Ruatoki in the false belief that terrorism was rife. However, that has since proven to be a wild made-up dream. She as yet hasn’t acknowledged these mistakes so, as a matter of principle, we cannot support her nomination,” he says.
Mrs Fox says the Māori Party aren’t the only ones to have concerns.
“The UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples found the Labour Party’s Foreshore and Seabed Act to be discriminatory and a breach of the human rights of Māori,” she says.
“The world's leading diplomat needs to have the right attitude toward the most vulnerable and in need. And that's usually indigenous populations,” she says.
Mr Flavell says: “This isn’t just about an apology, it’s about a candidate for the world’s top diplomatic posting displaying that she has the necessary respect and understanding of indigenous communities. We simply can’t pretend history didn’t happen,” he says.
“We all make mistakes but if she has learnt from hers and is prepared to acknowledge them, we would review our position,” he says.