Indigenous Land Rights and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Implications for Maori Land Claims in New Zealand
This Comment argues that Maori land claims will be bolstered through the use of existing and emerging customary international law, including principles in the Declaration. Part I discusses land issues in New Zealand, beginning by providing an overview of developments since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi (“Treaty”), the founding document of New Zealand. It then discusses Maori customary title, the foreshore and seabed controversy, and the first settlement under the F.S.A., and concludes with the reasons for New Zealand's vote against the Declaration. Part II reviews indigenous rights in international law and the role of international law in the New Zealand judiciary. Part III argues that international law, including the Declaration, provides support for successful claims of traditional land rights, especially those arising out of the F.S.A., and that the principles of the Declaration are applicable in New Zealand domestic law regardless of New Zealand's official position on the Declaration.