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Learning from Kiwis on Indigenous Tourism
Published on: Friday, May 19, 2017

Kota Kinabalu: New Zealand's Indigenous ties with Malaysia is the strongest in Sabah as the Polynesian people were here before, and many words in language like "mata" for eye are similar.

Through Anzac and the Colombo plan, many Sabahans also opted to study in New Zealand instead of Australia, noted its Minister for Maori Development Te Ururoa Flavell.

Speaking at a NZ High commission reception at the Hilton, he said both are close in education, culture, economy and tourism bilateral ties and could work together for the benefit of indigenous people.

State Tourism culture and Envoiroment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun noted the similarities between indigenous people in Sabah and New Zealand where, according to, the Maori constituted only 15 per cent of the population, but they are resourceful.

He also accepted an invitation by Te Ururoa to lead a Sabah delegation to attend the World Indigenous Tourism Alliance's (WINTA) conference in April next year to be held in New Zealand for the first time.

"There is so much to be gained from mutual exchange of ideas, aid, and people to people relationship through visits, business ties etc. Home stay is one of the Indigenous people tourism products that is mutually beneficial for both our people, especially the youths to get to know each other better," Masidi said.

Winta is the custodian of the Pacific Asia Indigenous Tourism Conference and is responsible for maintaining the integrity of the conference as an international opportunity for engagement and sharing by all peoples who have an interest in promoting, implementing and celebrating achievements in fostering Indigenous self-determination through participation in tourism consistent with the principles of the Larrakia Declaration and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights of the Indigenous People (UNDRIP) was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on September 13, 2007 became the foundation for the development of the Larrakia Declaration on the Development of Indigenous Tourism.

While recognising that tourism provides the strongest driver to restore, protect and promote Indigenous cultures, it also has the potential to diminish and destroy those same cultures when improperly developed.

The Larrakia Declaration (2012) sets out six principles to inspire equitable partnerships between the tourism industry and indigenous peoples that support community empowerment and the well-being of the local economy, environment, and culture.

The 2015 Indigenous Human Rights on Tourism report was a research initiative led by the Pacific Asia Tourism Association (PATA) in collaboration with WINTA, and is aimed at contributing to the practical implementation of the principles of the Larrakia Declaration that strengthens Indigenous cultures, while at the same time contributing to community and economic growth.

Australia, New Zealand and the United States have well-developed indigenous tourism industries.

The economic case for indigenous tourism was already clear. International tourists were becoming increasingly interested in cultural tourism.

In NZ, Maori Tourism's latest annual report, take-up of M?ori tourism activities jumped by almost a fifth to over 3.82 million visits for the year ended June 30, 2016.

New Zealand's 60yrs of ties with Malaysia includes helping Malaysia to fight Indonesia's attempt to wrest control of the North Borneo territories in what was known as Confrontation in 1964. This role, which continued until 1966, saw New Zealand soldiers mount covert cross-border raids into Indonesia to ambush Indonesian armed gangs moving into Sabah and Sarawak.

On August 11, 1966 representatives of Indonesia and Malaysia signed a peace treaty in Bangkok.

Hostilities were officially at an end. New Zealand forces completed its withdrawal from Borneo that October.

Although there were no fatalities as a result of enemy action, 12 New Zealanders died or were accidentally killed in the period of Confrontation between 1964 and 1966. - David Thien

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