The Human Rights Commission recently reported on the Government’s response to COVID-19. The report concludes that the Government is not doing enough to prioritise the Treaty of Waitangi (“the Treaty”) and human rights in its decision making.

The report notes that “Honouring Tiriti and human rights commitments is vital to ensure an effective response to COVID-19 and to prevent the erosion of trust and confidence within Crown-Māori relationships.”

Some of the issues the report highlights are:

  • lack of access to PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) by Māori health providers and home and community support workers;

  • an increase in racist language across Aotearoa; and

  • lack of access to justice due to cancellations and postponements of some hearings.

The report highlighted one positive example where the Treaty was at the centre of the government's response when iwi and hapū-led checkpoints were carried out in collaboration with police, council and civil defence.

Key recommendations for the Government relating to the Treaty include:

  • ensuring human rights and a Treaty based partnership across the Government’s COVID-19 response;

  • undertaking partnership decision-making that affirms the kāwanatanga of government and rangatiratanga of hapū, iwi, and Māori;

  • developing a National Action Plan Against Racism grounded in the Treaty;

  • tangata whaikaha (Māori living with disability) being linked to Māori and disability COVID-19 response teams; and
  • providing targeted investment to struggling businesses and industries, with the Treaty, equity, and human rights built into incentive packages and outcome planning.

 

 

The full report can be found here: https://www.hrc.co.nz/files/6615/8819/4763/Human_Rights_and_Te_Tiriti_o_Waitangi-_COVID-19_and_Alert_Level_4_FINAL.pdf




Rebecca Scoular-Sutton
Māori Issues Lawyer
Wellington


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