Sandra is a senior crimes and justice reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Tauranga group to join big TPP demo

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Tauranga TPPA Action Network members protested in August. Some members will be amid the protest action as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is signed at SkyCity tomorrow.
Tauranga TPPA Action Network members protested in August. Some members will be amid the protest action as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is signed at SkyCity tomorrow.

A group of Tauranga residents will join protesters converging on Auckland tomorrow to protest the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Tomorrow trade ministers from around the Pacific Rim will gather at SkyCity to sign the TPP free trade agreement.

Our plan is to use non-violent direct action which will include a sit in to try to prevent the pacific leaders from entering SkyCity. We don't want to give John Key any justification to call us rent-a-crowd or riff raff or any other derogatory labels.
Mel Caldwell

Mel Caldwell, co-organiser of the Tauranga TPPA Action Network, said a convoy of vehicles would be heading to Auckland and members' protest actions would be mainly centred on the SkyCity blockade.

Ms Caldwell said the local groundswell of opposition on the network's Facebook page had increased three or four fold in the last two weeks.

"Our plan is to use non-violent direct action which will include a sit in to try to prevent the pacific leaders from entering SkyCity. We don't want to give John Key any justification to call us rent-a-crowd or riff raff or any other derogatory labels."

Ms Caldwell questioned the need for secrecy and the lack of public consultation if the deal was as good as the Government claimed it was.

"They keep calling it a free-trade agreement but there is no free in corporate trading and New Zealand will have to make big sacrifices in order to be part of the club.

"If this agreement is so good for us then let's have transparency and consultation before we're locked into something we cannot get out of it, and the Government signs away our sovereignty, and our democratic rights to influence our own destiny are hugely eroded."

Charlie Tawhiao, chairman of Te Runanga o Ngai Te Rangi Iwi Trust, said: "As an iwi organisation we have not taken a formal view on the agreement but there is no doubt that there is a ground swell of opposition to the TPP deal among our people.

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"I know many of our board members are opposed to it because of the uncertainty around the protections of our Treaty provisions, and also the uncertainty about what's in the deal, and what it will look like once it is signed," he said

Mr Tawhiao said the Government's failure to consult with iwi did not auger well for future agreements and treaty negotiations.

Buddy Mikaere. Photo/file
Buddy Mikaere. Photo/file

Buddy Mikaere, spokesperson for Ngati Te Hapu, who represent members of Motiti Island, said there seemed to be wide and varying opinions on the agreement.

"Some iwi believe it impinges on their Treaty of Waitangi rights. But I don't think that will stand up to rigorous scrutiny as treaty rights, we're told, are specifically catered for, and come in for special protection in the agreement document.

"I think you can put that issue to one side but the biggest concern seems to be the fact that international corporate organisations can influence internal decisions made in New Zealand.

"I don't see why the Government hasn't waited a another couple of months so people could better understand what the TPPA is all about and the full implications of being part of the deal."

The Government has published a 277-page assessment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade and investment agreement.

Proponents argue the deal is potentially worth thousands of jobs and billions in foreign exchange earnings.

Zespri chief executive Lain Jager earlier said the TPP deal would be a big win for the kiwifruit industry once it came into force as it was expected to eliminate millions of dollars worth of tariffs on kiwifruit exports into all 12 Asia-Pacific nations.

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stan Gregec said the Western Bay region had a wide range of industries which would all potentially benefit from the deal.

What is the TPP?

* The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a free trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.

* The TPP will create new trade opportunities and diversify export destinations.

* Tariffs on exports to TPP countries will be eliminated, apart from beef exports to Japan, where tariffs will reduce significantly, and dairy exports to the US, Japan, Mexico and Canada.

* Estimated to add at least $2.7 billion a year extra to New Zealand's GDP by 2030.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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