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Wairarapa Māori push for rights to Pouākani land

Wairarapa Moana Incorporation [WMI] spoke to United Nations [UN] diplomats this week, lambasting the New Zealand Government’s decision to halt the return of lands at Pouākani to Wairarapa Māori.

WMI were one of only five non-government organisations selected earlier this week to speak directly to a group of Geneva-based UN diplomats on New Zealand’s human rights record.

The pre-session was held for non-governmental organisations [NGOs] to have an opportunity to speak to UN representatives ahead of New Zealand’s fourth Universal Periodic Review, which will take place in April.

Chosen to speak to the officials was Wairarapa Moana ki Pouākani Incorporation Committee of Management and Iwi Chair for Rangitāne Tū Mai Rā Trust Sonya Rimene.

Not holding back in her criticism of the New Zealand Government for stopping the return of lands at Pouākani to Wairarapa Māori by the Waitangi Tribunal, Rimene called the actions “a breach of human rights”.

“This was a breach of our human rights, rights as indigenous people and te Tiriti o Waitangi.”

In 2021, High Court overturned the Waitangi Tribunal’s 2020 decision to order the return of land in the Ngāumu Forest in Wairarapa and Pouākani to Ngāti Kahungunu.

Rimene said she had been well received by United Nations diplomats and human rights experts.

“At bilateral meetings with individual countries, I’ll be asking them to encourage the New Zealand Government to comply with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

Specific recommendations to the UN by WMI were to either commit to returning the land to WMI, or provide compensation that is “equal in quality, size, and legal status or of monetary compensation or appropriate redress”.


  1. The UN? What a useless organisation. It may have had a purpose once upon a time, but it has none now. It has turned into a club where former colonies point the bone at their former colonial masters, and stick their collective nose into places where it does not belong. They should push the UN building in New York right into the Hudson River, complete with the useless bureaucrats that inhabit it.

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Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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