New Zealand aims to be the first country in the world with an action plan to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in relation to Māori.
Minister for Māori Development Nanaia Mahuta is travelling to the United Nations in New York over Easter to speak on New Zealand's indigenous rights record to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
It comes after a high-level UN delegation from the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples visited the country to give advice on how New Zealand can implement the Declaration, which the country signed up to in 2010.
Mahuta said the delegation had been introduced to Māori leaders and groups up and down the country and met with ministers.
While they were yet to deliver a report with recommendations, the group had commented that New Zealand was seen as "leading" on indigenous issues, Mahuta said.
"Other countries look to what we are doing."
Mahuta said New Zealand was seen as a world leader in terms of its Māori language programmes, education and the Māori economy.
"We have made good progress in te reo Māori, with legal protections and programmes for the revitalisation, and through iwi radio, Māori TV, and education."
New Zealand's kōhanga reo - Māori immersion preschool - and kura kaupapa - schools - not only progressed te reo, but matauranga Māori (knowledge).
The Government was also taking an increasing focus on whānau development including Māori aspirations for the whenua and also papakainga (housing) projects, Mahuta said.
But there remained stark disparities in social outcomes, especially in terms of health.
On average, Māori die seven years earlier than non-Māori. They are twice as likely to die from cardiovascular disease or heart failure, and have rheumatic heart disease rates five times higher and twice as high for diabetes than non-Māori.
"Health is an area we have recognised we need to do more as a country to reduce those systemic inequities," Mahuta said.
The Declaration defined the minimum standards necessary for the "survival, dignity and well-being of indigenous peoples of the world".
It was made up of 46 articles and recognised the rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination, being able to maintain their own languages, being able to protect their natural and cultural heritage and manage their own affairs.
It was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007, but four countries - New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United States - voted against it.
In 2010 the then-National government bowed to its confidence and supply partner the Māori Party and agreed to support the Declaration, despite the previous Labour government's warnings the document was fundamentally incompatible with New Zealand's constitutional and legal systems.
While there was no specific timeframe on implementing the action plan, Mahuta said they were aiming to be the first in the world.
"We will be the first in the world to have a plan that can hold the Government to account on how it is making progress on indigenous rights."
A ministerial advisory group would be established this year to advise the Government on working with Māori to develop the plan, before meeting with Māori leaders, communities and iwi across the country.