Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Maori see TPP benefits, risks

Fishing, aquaculture assets could gain from market access; sovereignty issues still concern.
TPP Protest at the Katikati War Memorial Hall where John Key was speaking to invited guests. Photo / Andrew Warner
TPP Protest at the Katikati War Memorial Hall where John Key was speaking to invited guests. Photo / Andrew Warner

Some Maori business leaders say there are risks with the Trans Pacific Partnership, but people should look at it again to see the benefits it offers for the Maori economy.

Protests are planned for the signing of the agreement by trade ministers of the 12 countries in Auckland on Thursday and are then expected to move north for Waitangi Day.

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The Maori economy has been estimated at $40 billion and Auckland lawyer Paul Majurey, chair of the Hauraki Collective, said Pare Hauraki's fishing and aquaculture assets would benefit and the trust was supportive of the deal.

It already exported to China and Japan and the TPP would open access to Japan where fish products faced stiff tariffs.

The agreement would also allow Maori to form partnerships with investors from those countries, as happened under the China FTA.

He said there were risks and it was natural Maori would be concerned about sovereignty and the erosion of Treaty of Waitangi rights.

"There are issues and question marks with any international agreement that involves our sovereignty."

He said the TPP protected the Treaty and reserved the right to protect rights to traditional knowledge and plants, according to the Wai 262 finding.

He said a large part of the concern was distrust about whether the Government would fulfil that.

"As I've spent my legal career in actions against the Crown when they haven't fulfilled the Treaty and its promises, the Government will be brought to account if they don't do what they've promised to do."

Traci Houpapa, the chair of the Federation of Maori Authorities (Foma), said the TPP had obvious benefits for Maori exporters and businesses and that would flow through to communities.

She said New Zealand could not miss the chance to sit with global heavyweights such as the US and Japan, and hoped consultation on the agreement over coming months would provide Maori with assurances about the Treaty partnership.

"People are wanting assurances that partnership is in place and isn't impacted by the TPP."

She was comfortable that other trade agreements had upheld the Treaty.

"And our expectation is this Government will do the same," she said.

She said New Zealand was the only country with protections for indigenous rights in the trade agreement.

Foma would get its own analysis, but had been given commitments from the Government that the Treaty and traditional knowledge rights would be protected.

Taranaki-based Parininihi ki Waitotara chair Hinerangi Raumati said most of the assets were in dairy and while the deal did not deliver as much as had been hoped for, she did not believe it was something to be scared about.

"If it benefits the New Zealand economy, it's got to be benefiting the Maori economy and I guess we'll see that in time."

She said she was more worried about the dairy payout in the short-term.

In protest, some hapu said they would refuse to take part in the powhiri for the signing of the agreement on Thursday. One headache for officials was removed yesterday after Runanga O Ngati Whatua offered to do the powhiri, but made it clear that did not mean it supported the TPP.

Today, elders of Te Tii Marae in Waitangi will hold a hui to decide whether to allow Prime Minister John Key and Government ministers on to the marae for the annual visit on Friday.

Elder Kingi Taurua has called for the Government not to be invited because it had not consulted Maori over negotiations for the TPP.

- NZ Herald

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