Members of Parliament attending the 126th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly in Kampala, Uganda have been making New Zealand’s voice heard on the representation and political participation of indigenous peoples, both within the world’s parliaments and the Union itself. Hon Tau Henare, Jan Logie MP and Louisa Wall MP are representing the New Zealand Parliament at the Assembly.
Delegation leader, Hon Henare, said that the New Zealand delegation has been very active in ensuring consideration across the Assembly’s three Standing Committees of issues affecting indigenous peoples. The topics covered by the Standing Committees are Peace and International Security; Sustainable Development, Finance and Trade; and Democracy and Human Rights.
The delegation has also met separately with members of Parliament from Venezuela to share experiences and discuss tangible ways to increase the political participation of indigenous peoples.
“We were heartened to hear how the participation of indigenous peoples is being safeguarded in many of the parliaments of South America”, Hon Henare said. “Venezuela shares with us many aspects of our colonial history and our journey towards reconciliation and redress”.
The delegation spoke with Venezuela about the use of education, technology and broadcasting to challenge ignorance in the community at large and, to protect indigenous language, histories and culture.
New Zealand hopes to establish a forum at future IPU Assemblies dedicated to the effective participation of indigenous peoples in parliamentary decision-making and Venezuela, for one, said it would “go with both hands” in support. Such a forum would be a solid step towards involving more indigenous parliamentarians in the IPU and, in turn, a greater prioritisation of their issues on the political agenda.
The delegation also visited a health centre treating children with malnutrition and a clinic caring for those with HIV/AIDS. Ms Wall said she was disturbed by malnutrition in a country with access to good, healthy food and drew parallels with New Zealand children who contract preventable diseases. At the core of these issues, she said, is poverty and how we use the resources in our countries to meet such need.
Speaking on the visit to the clinic, Ms Logie implored parliamentarians not to allow the fight against HIV/AIDS to fall down the agenda and to work with non-governmental organisations to ensure the health and well-being of all citizens.
Participation at the Assembly has ensured that New Zealand’s perspective on the many issues facing the international community is heard and included on the agenda of the IPU going forward.