Maori & Indigenous Australian Leadership Critical to COVID-19 Recovery

Release Date: 
12 June 2020
Media release

Australia and New Zealand are walking together, demonstrating unity of effort and leadership on Indigenous-specific COVID-19 economic and social support measures.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, met online with New Zealand Minister for Māori Development, the Hon Nanaia Mahuta MP. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss key measures in both countries’ responses to COVID-19 as well as strategies for recovery.

“Our countries are managing similar issues in our COVID-19 response and recovery efforts for indigenous peoples.”

Challenges are common on the road out of COVID-19 – creating new job opportunities, unlocking economic potential as remote restrictions are lifted and supporting communities as they recover from the pandemic.

“We share a common goal – to lift and support our Indigenous people and economic recovery – so it makes sense that we share information on measures taken and insights on outcomes and concerns.”

“I’m particularly interested to learn more about the success and improved service delivery arising from responses led by iwi (tribes) such as the Te Arawa COVID-19 Hub which was formed early in the wake of COVID-19. It brings together over 50 organisations including health and social service providers, Māori land trusts and incorporations, tribal entities, NGOs and government agencies to tackle the multiple health, social and economic issues that arose from the threat of COVID-19.”

The Australian Government has taken a similar approach working in close partnership with Indigenous communities and leaders and State and Territory Governments in developing and implementing our response to COVID-19. The National Indigenous Australians Agency has worked closely with local communities and leaders through its regional presence across Australia.

Anecdotally, Iwi groups, just like Indigenous Australian communities, are taking the opportunity to step forward, lead and work alongside government. This has improved the health response to COVID-19 and there is a desire to see this continue forward. This cooperation has seen the emergence of strong voices from both of our cultural and economic leaders. I commend the strong spirit of partnership on both sides of the Tasman that has been working to keep our communities safe from COVID-19

The bilateral exchange is facilitated under the Australia and Aotearoa - New Zealand Indigenous Collaboration Arrangement which was signed on 28 February 2020 and agreed nine areas of collaboration: economic ecosystem, responsible tourism, creative sector, language exchange, Indigenous leadership, data, environmental stewardship, health and policy exchange.

“The Arrangement is beneficial for both countries. We are able to share opportunities and lessons, and importantly take practical steps on the recovery journey while safeguarding individuals and communities.”