A lack of consultation and assurances of protection for the rights of Maori were at the top of the list of questions and concerns at a Trans Pacific Partnership roadshow meeting in Rotorua today.
Between 80 and 100 people met at the Millennium Hotel to hear Rotorua MP and Trade Minister Todd McClay and New Zealand's chief negotiator for TPP Dr David Walker explain the TPP and how it would benefit the New Zealand economy.
Former Labour Party MP Shane Jones was the facilitator while Minister of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Christopher Finlayson, who was to appear, did not make it.
The primary purpose of the meeting was to inform Maori of the TPP and its implications, but was also open to the general public.
Mr McClay said Rotorua had reaped the rewards of past trade deals with countries such as South Korea and China and it would do so under the TPP.
He said the TPP would open up New Zealand to a potential market of 800,000 million people and assured people the rights of Maori under the Treaty of Waitangi were protected in the TPP, saying New Zealand would not relinquish its rights to make its own laws and protect its people.
He said New Zealand had more to lose if it did not ratify the TPP.
Te Arawa lawyer Tony Wihapi said a lack of consultation with Maori and details on what was not being said publicly were major concerns.
"This is an American corporate-driven process ... we are likely to end up economic slaves to this regime. We have heard all of the supposed positives, but what are the possible negatives?
"This is not consultation, we have just come to a hui, had a cup of tea and asked some questions," he said.
Dr Walker said the TPP was not a corporate negotiation but a government negotiation and that no government would sell New Zealanders out.
The fact Mr McClay left at the morning tea break, leaving Dr Walker and Mr Jones to answer questions, was not lost on those attending.
But, Mr McClay said he had a lunchtime engagement with the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce regarding the TPP.
Rotorua/Te Arawa TPPA Action Group chairwoman Marama Meikle said it was interesting to hear that no matter what people said or did the government would not change its mind and would pass TPP legislation anyway.
"It was just a box ticking exercise. All we got was their perspective, it was all very generalised - was four hours enough to explain a 6000 page document?"
Ms Meikle said she and many others she had spoken to were not convinced the Treaty of Waitangi would be protected under the TPP.
"There has still not been any debate about what's in the TPP in parliament. We still think this is a US-based multi-national corporate plan to strengthen their interests in the Asia-Pacific region."