Māori are being urged to voice concern with DNA consultation

Published: Thu 31 Jan 2019 09:18 AM
DNA Māori customary rights Doctoral researcher at Awanuiārangi Wānanga Mr Karaitiana Taiuru is urging all Māori to share their views to the Law Commission’s public consultation on DNA samples being used in investigations. Especially any Māori who has already provided DNA to the Police.
Submissions are due on March 31st 2019 via their web site.
There are 5 key recommendations Karaitiana Taiuru is suggesting:
1. The law must acknowledge that DNA is as a Taonga
2. The Law must recognise customary rights of DNA
3. DNA must be stored in a tikanga appropriate and safe manner
4. DNA must be obtained with customary rights considered (where possible)
5. Treaty of Waitangi rights must be considered in all aspects of DNA retrieval and storage.
6. There must be adequate Māori representation on governance and advisory groups both locally and nationally at all levels of all organisations and government who deal with DNA samples for criminal investigations and privacy.
Many people do not understand that your DNA sample is also the sample for you, your whanau and Iwi, it is our whakapapa and tapu. Therefore, Karaitiana Taiuru states proper retrieval and storage considerations should be implemented and recommendations made to the Law Commission to protect Māori.
DNA can be used to trace whanau and Iwi connections, personality traits and can be used to determine health issues, diseases such as type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's, to psychiatric disorders, physical, behavioral and psychological traits said Karaitiana Taiuru.
The Law Commission states that Māori are more likely to be asked for a DNA sample than non-Māori. Noting Police can use their discretion and demand a sample for any offence that is imprisonable. Leading to the possible reason for Māori to be over represented in DNA profile databanks. It is acknowledged that these data banks do not consider tikanga and Treaty obligations.
Considering the significant advancements with genomic research and the fact that research in New Zealand is being conducted with no Māori customary ethics, it is possible that genomics and DNA could be the new repatriation challenge for Māori within the next decade, as Māori fight to regain ownership and access to their whakapapa.
Genetic information is a Taonga and should be treated accordingly and legislated says Karaitiana Taiuru.
Useful Links
Law Commission online consultation and documents
A summary of Māori issues from the report
Dangerous Game of DNA Testing

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