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Government must partner with Maori on climate response - Commissioner

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Government deserves praise for making the declaration of a climate emergency one of the first actions of the new Parliament, but acting in partnership with Māori will be key to delivering meaningful action, says Māori Climate Commissioner Donna Awatere Huata.

The Government today declared a climate emergency, recognising both the advocacy of New Zealanders in calling for action to protect the environment, and the devasting impact extreme weather will have on New Zealand and the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

Commissioner Awatere Huata says generations of Māori have been among the leading voices calling on successive Governments to take greater action to protect Aotearoa and its people from climate change.

"The Government deserves to be recognised for what this declaration means, not only in terms of the symbolism of the motion, but what it can now enable the Government to do in terms of concrete action," says Commissioner Awatere Huata.

"However, this can only be achieved in partnership with Māori, who have long sought to highlight the degradation of our environment and the impact it will have on our people - in particular our most vulnerable."

"We have long understood the importance of living and working in harmony with the natural world, and the concepts of whakapapa, mauri and utu should underpin the way all New Zealanders approach our environment. From these principles we can build an inclusive, all-encompassing approach to climate change that supports and empowers everyone."

Commissioner Awatere Huata says that Māori have not only recognised the changing climate as an emergency for many years, but - like many indigenous peoples around the world - are already feeling its effects.

"We must now move on from debating the nature of the threat, and start working towards locally-led solutions that will not only benefit all of Aotearoa but demonstrate global leadership."

"The way to do this is in partnership between the Crown and Māori, to harness the knowledge and experience we have as guardians of this place, to provide solutions that benefit everyone."

"We look forward to working with the Government to establish the framework for this action, which must now take urgent priority as we seek to address the emergency together."

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