Barry Soper: Trade boost would help Maori

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Image / iStock
Image / iStock

They're waiting with bated breath in Parliament's bear pit this afternoon for the Prime Minister to lay it on the line - the much vaunted and vilified Trans Pacific Partnership.

It's the first step in the ratification process.

Unlikely to be tuned into the opening shots in Parliament this afternoon though with be the miffed members of the Ngapuhi tribe but as they say, "There are none so ignorant as those who refuse to listen." Yes, it's a take on that old saying that "there are none so blind as those who will not see."

The point is that it's a sentiment that should be exercising the minds of the 38 Ngapuhi clots who voted to ban John Key from their marae on the eve of Waitangi Day.

They set in motion a serious of events, or exchanges of emails, that saw Key refusing to go north because they told him he wouldn't have the right to speak on their marae. He was planning to put the case on the Trans Pacific Partnership which was signed the day before. The PM said he wasn't prepared to be gagged.

That privilege was afforded to his right hand man Steven Joyce who for his efforts had a rather nasty looking dildo bounce off his mug.

The irony in Ngapuhi imposing the gagging order though won't be lost on many. This from a tribe who accused the government of refusing to consult with them about the TPP. When Key offered to do it, they gagged him.

So as they reflect on their behaviour they might do well to consider some interesting facts put out over the long weekend by Catherine Beard from ExportNZ. This country generally does well out of trade deals, essentially because our biggest exports are dairy, meat, fishing, forestry, and horticulture. And they usually attract the most hefty tariffs.

But here's the rub that Ngapuhi might like to reflect on: Maori are significant owners of these exports. A couple of years ago the Maori stake in agriculture, forestry, and fishing amounted to around $10 billion, or a 30 per cent slice of the cake. They also have 40 per cent of the fishing quota, ten per cent of kiwifruit, 30 per cent of lamb production, 36 per cent of forestry and ten per cent of dairy production.

Beard's argument is that it's good for the New Zealand economy as tariffs fall on these exports, particularly for Maori, who tend to hold on to their assets for future generations.

Just imagine if this blip on the radar screen decided to turn its back on the Trans Pacific Partnership which will open up our goods to more than 800 million people. Our exports would continue to attract tariffs whilst the eleven other countries would be selling their goods to each other at an ever diminishing cost. The only possible downside to all of this is that the signing of the trade deal was the easy part. Its ratification's another matter.

Who knows, Ngapuhi may get its wish after all, not that they'd probably notice anyway.

Barry Soper is the political editor for NewstalkZB.

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