Mãori, the indigenous people of Aotearoa, represent 17% of the 4.3 million population. Mãori cultural identity is strong despite the fact that most Mãori live in urban centres. The gap between Mãori and non-Mãori is pervasive: Mãori life expectancy is almost 10 years less than non-Mãori; household income is 72% of the national average; half of Mãori males leave secondary school with no qualifications and 50% of the prison population is Mãori.
There are two versions of the Treaty of Waitangi, an English-language version and a Maori-language version. The Treaty was signed between the British and Mãori in 1840. It granted right of governance to the British, promised that Mãori would retain sovereignty over their lands, resources and other treasures and conferred the rights of British citizens on Mãori.
The Treaty has, however, limited legal status in the courts and Parliament; accordingly, protection of Mãori rights is largely dependent upon political will and the ad hoc recognition of the Treaty.
The current National government endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2010.
International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, The Indigenous World 2011
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