United Nations


International Convention on the Elimination of A ll Forms of Racial Discrimination

Distr.: General

26 February 2013

Original: English

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Eighty-second session

Summary record of the 2221st meeting

Held at the Palais Wilson, Geneva, on Thursday, 21 February 2013, at 3 p.m.

Chairperson:Mr. Avtonomov


Consideration of reports, comments and information submitted by States parties under article 9 of the Convention (continued)

Eighteenth to twentieth periodic reports of New Zealand

The meeting was called to order at 3.05 p.m.

Consideration of reports, comments and information submitted by States parties under article 9 of the Convention (continued)

Eighteenth to twentieth periodic reports of New Zealand (CERD/C/NZL/18-20; CERD/C/NZL/Q/18-20; HRI/CORE/NZL/2010)

At the invitation of the Chairperson, the delegation of New Zealand took places at the Committee table.

Ms. Collins (New Zealand) said that hers was a multiracial, multicultural nation that prided itself on the promotion of human rights and equal treatment for all of its citizens. It was a young nation: ancestors of the indigenous Maori had arrived in New Zealand 1,000 years before and European settlers had started to settle there in the late eighteenth century. In 1840, representatives of the British Crown and Maori chiefs had signed the Treaty of Waitangi, the nation’s founding document, which gave the Crown the right to govern New Zealand and develop settlements while guaranteeing Maori full protection of their interests and status and full citizenship rights. Four Maori seats had been established in Parliament in 1867.

In 1975, the Government had established the Waitangi Tribunal to hear Maori grievances against the Crown for breaches of the Treaty. Since that date, the Crown had accepted a moral obligation to resolve Maori historical grievances through Treaty settlements. Such settlements usually included an historical account, an apology, and cultural, financial and commercial redress. Treaty settlements enabled Maori tribes (iwi) to move on from past grievances and create their own wealth and sense of security. Settlement assets were invested by Maori claimant groups; the benefits of their wise investments were flowing to beneficiaries and enabling iwi to become significant contributors to the national economy. Their long-term view made them ideal cornerstone-investors in infrastructure, property, farmland and energy projects. In 2008, the Government had set a goal of settling all historical claims by 2014. More than half had been settled by the end of 2012; settlement of the outstanding claims remained a priority.

New Zealand was a nation of immigrants from all over the world, including Northern Europe, China, the Pacific Islands and Asia. Its open, tolerant and integrated society was ethnically and culturally diverse at all levels, and inter-ethnic relationships and marriage were common.

New Zealand was proud of its role in the Pacific region and its contribution to international organizations. The Pacific Islands region was integral to New Zealand’s national identity and to its foreign policy and interests, and it had invested considerable diplomatic resources in the South Pacific. The maintenance of democracy, the rule of law and human rights in the region was of great importance; New Zealand actively supported regional human rights capacity-building efforts through the New Zealand Aid Programme, with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Moreover, it took effective action to reduce barriers to education in the region and to provide sustainable and equitable access to safe water and sanitation, with a view to improving public health and promoting sustainable economic development.

Her country was actively engaged in international peace and security efforts; its police, peacekeeping and reconstruction teams around the world were known for their ability to engage effectively with minority groups. Moreover, it had a comprehensive resettlement strategy for refugees, under which it accepted some 750 people annually.

New Zealand was a constitutional monarchy with a unitary parliamentary democracy, and a single Government and legal system; voting rights were acquired after one year’s residence. The Government and public sector had been recognized as world leaders in terms of transparency. The current Governor-General and 3 out of 20 cabinet ministers were of Maori descent. Of the 121 members of the House of Representatives, 21 identified themselves as Maori and 6 as Pacific Islanders; the fact that Maori were proportionally represented in the national Parliament underscored New Zealand’s commitment to Maori integration.

Aspects of the country’s constitutional arrangements were currently under review by an independent advisory panel, on which Maori were strongly represented. The panel was considering the possibility of a written constitution, entrenchment of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, the way Maori were represented in Parliament and local government, and the role of the Treaty of Waitangi. It would report to the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Maori Affairs by the end of 2013. The review was a key opportunity for the Government to implement the Committee’s 2007 recommendation on the continuation of public discussion over the status of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Her Government was aware that Maori and Pacific Islanders had poorer outcomes in the areas of health, education, employment and the criminal justice system, and was committed to addressing disparities between different ethnic groups in collaboration with local communities. It had set ambitious targets through the Better Public Services programme and had launched a range of initiatives to meet them. It was committed to making the necessary investments to improve outcomes for affected groups and the general population. The programme aimed to reduce long-term welfare dependency, support vulnerable children, boost skills and employment, reduce crime and improve interaction with the Government. Efforts were made to ensure that Government-funded programmes and services delivered to Maori people reflected their preferences, cultural values and norms, and that they were designed, developed and delivered by Maori. A range of other programmes and services also focused on improving the situation of Maori and Pacific Islanders in the key areas identified.

The health of Maori and Pacific Islanders was improving and the gap between those groups and the rest of the population was narrowing. The gap in life expectancy at birth was also narrowing, although substantial discrepancies persisted. Although immunization was free and widely available, immunization rates among Maori and Pacific children remained lower than the rest of the population; the Government had an active plan to increase infant immunization rates to 95 per cent by December 2014. The incidence of rheumatic fever had been 20 times higher for Maori and 37 times higher for Pacific Islanders than for other ethnic groups in 2010. The Government had allocated substantial sums to a five-year programme focusing on early diagnosis and treatment in vulnerable communities. A range of other health problems were overrepresented in Maori and Pacific communities, and the Government bodies that provided health services were required to have a strategy in place to address those specific problems with particular focus on improving health among Maori and Pacific Islanders.

With regard to education, while Maori and Pacific students were overrepresented among low-performing students, participation rates in early childhood education had improved over the past decade and more Maori and Pacific Islanders were obtaining qualifications. However, significant gaps between ethnic groups persisted. The Government had developed strategies to address key issues, including working with communities to keep young Maori and Pacific Islanders in school. In addition, national standards had been introduced setting out clearly what was expected of students during their first eight years at school. The Government sought to improve its engagement with parents and children, and was developing new approaches to better meet the needs of vulnerable children and families. It was increasing the number of free places in tertiary education programmes and developing programmes with schools and communities to bring back to education school dropouts and those who left without qualifications, a demographic in which Maori and Pacific Islanders were overrepresented.

Some schools had a strong focus on Maori values and culture, enabling Maori students to engage more productively in learning. Maori language and culture were taught as part of the general school curriculum; Maori was an official language, in addition to English and sign language. It was spoken in Parliament and in court proceedings and broadcast on the national indigenous television broadcaster, Maori Television.

Unemployment had almost doubled in the wake of the global financial crisis, with a disproportionate impact on Maori and Pacific Islanders and, in particular, youth. Some 23 per cent of Maori and 18 per cent of Pacific youth in the 15–20 age group were not in education, employment or training, in comparison with 11 per cent of European youth. Higher unemployment levels meant that there was greater welfare dependency among Maori and Pacific Islanders: in 2010, some 31 per cent of all working-age Maori were receiving a benefit in comparison with 10 per cent of the rest of the population. The Government aimed to reduce the number of Maori and Pacific Islanders in that group by 30 per cent by June 2017 by targeting those at greatest risk of long-term welfare dependency, such as single parents. Access to health services for that group, including drug and alcohol rehabilitation, would also be improved.

Better qualifications led to better economic outcomes. The Government was working closely with education-providers and communities to ensure that students in the 25–34 age group received training and qualifications relevant to the job market. In addition, it had established and substantially funded a four-year scheme that gave incentives to employers to provide 3,000 training opportunities for young persons in the 16–24 age group on benefit and with low or no skills or work experience. Such initiatives would contribute to improving the employment prospects of Maori and Pacific youth and reduce inequality.

Maori and Pacific Islanders were overrepresented in the criminal justice system and as victims of crime, particularly domestic violence. Maori apprehension rates were between three and six times higher than European apprehension rates, and Maori were substantially overrepresented in the prison population. Pacific Islanders were overrepresented in the prison population but to a lesser extent. Domestic violence was a serious issue and Government programmes sought to address it through specific solutions that would enable affected ethnic groups to own and address the underlying issues with the wider community.

Under the Better Public Services programme, the justice sector target to reduce overall crime by 15 per cent by June 2017 was challenging. However, it was attainable. That and other targets would be met by reducing opportunities for crime, targeting vulnerable youth and young offenders, reducing alcohol and drug abuse, and reducing reoffending; particular emphasis would be placed on young Maori offenders in the first instance. The Government would work with iwi to coordinate youth justice service delivery in a culturally appropriate manner. Emphasis would be placed on multiple underlying causes of crime in order to reduce Maori and Pacific youth crime rates. Early parenting support and programmes to address behavioural problems with at-risk children and young people would help to keep them out of the criminal justice system. The Government supported programmes that drew on and strengthened Maori and Pacific cultures and communities. Funding for alcohol and drug treatment services had been increased to reduce drug and alcohol-related crime by supporting and enabling offenders to confront and overcome their dependency.

The strategy of the national police to improve their engagement with and response to ethnic communities included doubling the number of ethnic staff. Community policing was the standard in New Zealand, and iwi liaison officers provided culturally appropriate engagement. Levels of trust and confidence in the police were high. The restorative justice practices common in New Zealand for two decades were in accordance with Maori and Pacific values such as reconciliation, reciprocity and extended family involvement. Within some prisons, special Maori and Pacific focus units had been established and adopted appropriate therapeutic approaches to the causes of offending, drawing on the traditions and cultural practices of those groups. In addition, educational opportunities for prisoners had been expanded, in particular for younger prisoners.

The justice system had significantly improved its responsiveness to Maori and Pacific Islanders in recent years. Reducing offending rates was an ongoing challenge. However, partnerships had been built with Maori and Pacific communities and were expected to yield results over the coming few years.

With regard to other points raised by the Committee in the list of issues, the concern expressed by the Human Rights Commission about the higher levels of discrimination and harassment experienced by Asian than by other groups should first be addressed. Discrimination clearly was a problem for that group. Yet at the same time, the majority view was that diversity and immigration were positive factors and that Asian migrants made a significant contribution to society.

The Office of Ethnic Affairs had been established to address discrimination in the workplace. It offered strategic advice on managing diversity through intercultural awareness and communication training in the workplace and, in a broader context, promoted the benefits of diversity through a variety of parliamentary and community events, conferences and workshops.

The Mixed Ownership Model Bill had been enacted, allowing an element of private ownership of four major State-owned enterprises in the energy sector. Company shares would be sold but the Crown would hold at least 51 per cent of voting rights and no other shareholder could have an interest in more than 10 per cent of voting rights, thus ensuring that control of the companies remained in the hands of the Crown. The Government had consulted with Maori on the proposed legislative changes and some had raised concerns about their rights over water, as one enterprise, Mighty River Power, generated electricity through tapping the flow of water. The New Zealand Maori Council had brought a case before the Supreme Court challenging the planned partial sale of shares in that enterprise. The case remained before the Court, but served to emphasize the robust process that existed for considering Maori claims. The Government’s clear position was that in common law nobody owned water. Maori did have rights and interests in water and those would continue to be addressed through processes such as Treaty settlements and dialogue with Maori leaders. The partial sale of Mighty River Power did not affect the Crown’s ability to recognize Maori rights and interests in water. The Crown was committed to honouring its obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi and would continue to do so through the mixed ownership model.

The Committee’s concerns about structural discrimination as reflected in persisting inequalities in health, education, justice and economic prosperity were being addressed through initiatives under the Better Public Services programme, among others, which were successfully reducing the gap between different ethnic groups. Addressing inequalities was an iterative process focusing on real change for disadvantaged people and would take time.

Mr. Vázquez (Country Rapporteur) said he appreciated the serious attitude of the State party to its human rights obligations in general and to those under the Convention in particular, its developed framework for the protection of human rights and against racial discrimination, and its active Human Rights Commission.

The Commission’s numerous duties included keeping track of New Zealand’s compliance with the Committee’s recommendations; many, although not all, of its most recent recommendations had been implemented. The Committee welcomed the repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed Act in addition to the endorsement of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, although it would be interested to hear more about the reservations it had entered in that regard. It also welcomed the adoption of the Immigration Act of 2009 removing barriers to education for the children of foreign nationals and limiting situations in which asylum seekers could be detained.

The Committee had urged in its previous recommendations that human rights standards should be entrenched in the legal system as constitutional norms; it would appreciate further information of the prospect of the entrenchment of the Treaty of Waitangi. Would the filing deadline for the resolution of historical claims under the Treaty bar consideration of any claims, and would the resolution deadline of 2014 have an impact on the consideration of claims?

The Committee’s 2007 recommendation that Waitangi Tribunal recommendations should be considered binding had been rejected on the grounds that the Tribunal formed part of a truth and reconciliation process. The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples had recommended that the Government should be required to provide a written explanation of any decision not to be bound by the Tribunal’s recommendations.

He asked whether the State party had taken steps to implement the 2011 recommendation of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples that any decision by the Government to act against the recommendations of the Waitangi Tribunal in a particular case should be accompanied by a written justification and be in accordance with the principles of the Treaty and international human rights standards.

Turning to decisions of the Waitangi Tribunal, he asked when the Government planned to respond to the major 2011 decision on the Wai 262 (Flora and fauna) claim concerning Maori intellectual property rights. It would be useful to have updated information on the intentions of the Government regarding the sale of State assets in three power companies. That was particularly important in the light of the 2012 ruling of the Tribunal that the sale of the companies without the establishment of a mechanism for safeguarding Maori rights in freshwater and geothermal resources would violate the Treaty of Waitangi. He would welcome the delegation’s comments on reports that the Government’s consultations with the Maori on that issue had been insufficient. The Committee would also be interested to hear about the Government’s views on the need for prior consultation with the Maori concerning their water rights in the wake of the Petrobras case and the Government’s continued interest in promoting oil exploration and drilling. While welcoming the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act of 2011, he noted that the Maori continued to have concerns about the limited nature of the rights recognized by the Act and the onerous requirement to demonstrate their entitlement to such rights by showing uninterrupted use of the relevant areas since 1840. He would welcome the delegation’s comments in that regard.

While commending the State party for its efforts to reduce the number of Maori in the criminal justice system, he remained concerned at the continued overrepresentation of that group in the prison population. The excellent report of the Human Rights Commission entitled “A fair go for all: structural discrimination in public services” drew attention to unconscious discrimination against members of the Maori community on the part of health workers. Recognizing such discrimination was a positive first step. He asked whether the Government endorsed that report and whether it planned to continue addressing structural discrimination.

He asked whether the Government had formulated any plans in response to the decision of the Waitangi Tribunal that the State party had been violating its obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi concerning Kōhanga reo (Maori-language-immersion preschools). It would be useful to have updated information on the State party’s new Maori-language strategy and the implementation of the Pacific languages framework. The Committee would welcome additional details of the funds allocated to the teaching and learning of Pacific languages.

He urged the State party to prioritize efforts to gather data on racially-motivated crime. It was reassuring to note the significant level of criticism of the recent anti-Muslim comments made by a Member of Parliament and the Government’s reaffirmation of the country’s commitment to non-discrimination. He enquired what further steps the Government planned to take in that regard. He also asked whether it would implement the recommendations of the Law Commission on hate speech on the Internet. It would be useful to learn how the State party would address discrimination against Asians, especially in terms of employers’ non-recognition of their qualifications or work experience outside the State party.

He requested updated information on the status of the Immigration Amendment Bill and asked whether the Government would address the concerns expressed by NGOs and UNHCR that the Bill would violate the State party’s obligations under the 1951 and 1967 Refugee Conventions. While commending the State party’s decision to resettle 150 refugees who were subject to Australia’s offshore processing legislation, he asked whether the Government would consider admitting them in addition to, as opposed to as part of, the State party’s refugee quota. He requested confirmation of reports that refugees or asylum seekers wishing to enter the State party might be processed at the Australian detention facilities; that was of great concern given the allegedly deplorable conditions in those centres.

The Committee would welcome an explanation for the reorganization proposed in the Human Rights Amendment Bill, under which the current Race Relations Commissioner would be replaced with a generic Human Rights Commissioner who would have a responsibility for race relations under the direction of the Chief Commissioner. He asked whether the Government shared the concerns of NGOs about the effect such a reduction in the visibility of the Race Relations Office might have on the level of protection against racial discrimination.

Mr. Murillo Martínez requested additional information on the scope of the land allocations that had been made to the Maori within the framework of historical reparation and asked whether that land was held under a communal property regime. He commended the State party for its adoption of the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act and enquired about the package of rights associated with customary marine title. Welcoming the State party’s 2009 statement in support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, he asked what experience the State party had of conducting effective consultations with indigenous peoples prior to taking decisions that could affect them. It would be useful to know about the legal framework for such consultations. The Committee would welcome an explanation of the predominantly positive attitude towards migrants among the State party’s population, as it served as an excellent example for other countries.

Mr. Calí Tzay commended the State party for setting up the institutions that had paved the way for the formal recognition of the rights of the Maori population; it had set an excellent example for other States with indigenous peoples. He also commended the State party for its support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and asked whether steps had been taken to publicize and give effect to the content of the Declaration. He wished to know whether domestic legislation had been reviewed in the light of the Declaration to ascertain whether the rights of the Maori could be improved by applying the principles contained in the Declaration. He asked whether any additional claims had been made under the Treaty of Waitangi after the cut-off date.

Mr. Diaconu commended the State party for introducing bilingual education programmes and for receiving such a large number of international students. He encouraged the Government to continue its efforts to improve the standard of living of the Maori population and other vulnerable groups. The Committee would welcome details of the number and nature of the complaints concerning racial discrimination that had been brought before the Human Rights Commission and the outcome of the inquiries conducted. He asked whether the State party’s legislation prohibited acts of racial discrimination committed by moral or natural persons against other persons.

He commended the State party for its Bill of Rights Act, which protected human rights norms in domestic legislation. He would welcome an explanation of the term “ethnic heritage”, which formed part of the definition of ethnic communities in paragraph 66 of the periodic report. He failed to understand why the 2009 Review of Crime and Criminal Justice Statistics Report had to be validated before it could be used by the police and why the media and NGOs could apparently gather data on racially-motivated crime but the police could not. He pointed out that distinguishing between groups of persons was a form of discrimination under the Convention. He would welcome the delegation’s comments in that regard in the light of the fact that the Human Rights Act allowed the Government to distinguish between New Zealand citizens and other persons, and between Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth citizens. While the Immigration Act provided for a partial exemption from human rights scrutiny, immigration legislation, policies and practices were still subject to the non-discrimination standard provided for under the Bill of Rights Act. He therefore wished to know why complaints about discrimination in immigration cases were not brought before the judicial system.

Given the concerns of the Maori community about the possible effects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement which the Government was negotiating with 10 other countries, he asked whether the Maori had been consulted on that agreement and how the Government organized such consultations in general. He asked whether the Government planned to implement the recommendation of the Waitangi Tribunal to amend domestic legislation in order to protect the property rights of the Maori community relating to their traditional knowledge and their genetic and biological resources.

Ms. Crickley asked whether any data were available on the impact the economic downturn in the State party was having on the Maori and Pacific Islanders. She wished to know whether citizens and migrants were fully aware of their right to submit complaints to the Human Rights Commission. It would be useful to know whether the State party had taken any specific measures to address the needs of the Maori, Pacific Islanders and immigrant groups who had suffered as a result of the devastating 2012 earthquakes in Christchurch. She would welcome additional details of the current human rights action plan, including its targets and timelines. It would also be useful to learn how the Government supported NGOs and education-providers and which ones had benefited from that support to date. She would appreciate further details of the detention of asylum seekers in correctional facilities and the system for recognition of migrants’ qualifications in the State party. Additional information on the status and targets of the current plan for refugee resettlement would be useful. She would welcome information on any initiatives the State party was taking to reduce the discrimination and marginalization experienced by women from minority communities and the targets they contained.

Mr. de Gouttes requested an explanation of how the State party’s legal and constitutional frameworks defined the bounds of its engagement with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Committee would welcome details of any measures the State party had taken to implement the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples in his 2011 report on the situation of Maori people in New Zealand (A/HRC/18/35/Add.4). It would also be useful to have additional information on the campaigns that had been designed, delivered and led by Maori and Pacific Islanders to put a stop to family, domestic and sexual violence in their communities.

He would like to know more about the implementation of the Human Rights Act. It appeared that the average number of complaints under section 61 of the Act had varied little between the period under consideration and the previous reporting period. There was no specific offence relating to “hate speech” and there had been only one prosecution under section 131 of the Act on incitement to racial disharmony. He asked the delegation to comment on that. He welcomed a series of innovative and positive measures undertaken by the State party, including the rise in the number of people of diverse ethnic backgrounds employed by the police, the increased use of Rangatahi Courts and Pasifika Courts in cases involving young offenders, and the rise in the number of Maori sitting on juries. All such measures were commendable but the Committee required data on their impact in order to be better able to assess their effectiveness. The disproportionate percentage of Maori and people of Polynesian descent in prison remained an unresolved problem. He asked how many of the 653 complaints alleging discrimination on race-related grounds in the area of employment between 2005 and 2011 had been filed by Maori and Pacific Islanders and with what results.

Mr. Kut welcomed the Government’s policy initiatives regarding the territory of Tokelau but underlined the importance of monitoring and assessing their impact. He asked for more information about the methodology and findings of the annual survey on perceived discrimination, which could prove to be a highly effective tool in efforts to combat racial discrimination.

Ms. Dah welcomed the Government’s decision to support the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and hoped that it would also lift any remaining reservations on the Declaration. Overall, the State party had made significant progress in combating racial discrimination since 2007.

Ms. January-Bardill, noting that Maori and Pacific Islanders tended to have poorer access to health care, education and work than other groups in New Zealand society, asked whether statistics were available on Maori and Pacific Islander women. She also wished to know whether initiatives undertaken to reverse those tendencies included measures specifically directed at women. She asked whether anything was being done to counter the worrying decline in prosecutions for offences of violence against women committed in the Maori, Pacific Islander and other ethnic communities. She asked the delegation to comment on negotiations between the State party and 11 other Asian and Pacific Rim countries on the establishment of a free trade area and the impact that might have on Maori and Pacific Islanders, who were not being consulted.

Mr. Lindgren Alves said that the frequent use of the Maori language and other Pacific Island languages and terminology throughout the State party’s periodic report had hampered comprehension of its contents. He asked whether aiga (family violence) was considered to be the result of cultural heritage or simply a criminal act, and what was being done to combat it. The State party’s multicultural stance seemed to give rise to a large number of complaints from civil society relating to discrimination. Was that because New Zealand was a wealthy country and civil society was more demanding there than in other countries?

Mr. Kemal, noting that Maori performed relatively poorly in school and university and were more affected by unemployment than other social groups, asked whether the Government had considered promoting employment for Maori in areas connected with their traditional way of life and occupations. He also asked what results had been achieved by the He Korowai Oranga initiative of 2002 on health care. Heavy smoking and obesity appeared to be widespread among Maori and Pacific Islanders; together with the disproportionately high representation of those groups among the prison population, a picture emerged of indigenous communities lacking hope in the future. Could the delegation make any comments in that regard? He also asked the delegation to clarify figures regarding the fishing industry and aquaculture. If 80 per cent of fisheries were reserved for Maori, did that not disadvantage other people?

Referring to funding of the Committee, he said that the Committee had separate budget arrangements from other treaty bodies. An amendment to article 8 of the Convention proposed in 1992 and designed to put the Committee on an equal footing with the other treaty bodies by transferring all funding responsibilities from the States parties to the United Nations had not entered into force because the necessary number of States parties to the Convention had not yet notified their acceptance of the amendment.

The Chairperson said that New Zealand was in fact one of the few States parties that had notified its acceptance of the amendment. He asked whether it also intended to recognize the Committee’s competence to hear individual complaints under article 14 of the Convention.

Mr. Vázquez said that he would like the delegation to provide an update on the inquiry by the Independent Police Complaints Authority regarding Operation Eight. Under sentencing legislation passed in 2010, the State party had introduced a form of “three-strikes” law, which in most countries where it was applied had led to a massive increase in the prison population. He asked if that had been the case in the State party. The Committee was also concerned about the disproportionate use of taser weapons by police against Maori.

Ms. Collins (New Zealand) said that no one group spoke for the Maori. Rather, all were part of iwi but affiliated to different tribal groups. Instead of concentrating on the fact that a disproportionate percentage of prisoners were Maori, attention should be paid to the vast majority of the Maori population who led successful lives. Within the justice system, the Government focused on Maori as victims rather than as perpetrators of crime.

Maori was a language of the State party and the delegation would make no apology for its use in the periodic report. She conceded, however, that more translations of terms could be provided in future reports.

The ultimate goal of the State party was social harmony. At a time when slavery was still common in other countries, Maori had been admitted as members of Parliament in the 1860s. New Zealand had granted women the vote in 1893. Recently, a Member of Parliament had so infuriated colleagues with incendiary remarks about Muslims that he had been convinced to join them in voting for a resolution condemning such statements.

The meeting rose at 6 p.m.