Maori rights recognised in the Treaty of Waitangi may be compromised by the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, says the chairman of Te Tai Tokerau District Maori Council.
The concerns have led to the council - made up of committees who represent Northland Maori - submitting an urgency claim with the Waitangi Tribunal urging the Crown to allow Maori to be involved in discussions about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
Rihari Dargaville said the group was concerned the tino rangatiratanga (sovereignty) Maori held over land, water, flora and fauna - recognised by the Treaty of Waitangi - might come second to the interests of international companies if the TPPA was passed.
The TPPA is a proposed free-trade deal between 12 Asia-Pacific countries including New Zealand, the US and Japan.
Information about the agreement has been kept under wraps by government officials, causing some concern among critics.
"We're concerned about it because one of our issues here in the north is our resources," Mr Dargaville said.
"We don't really want any particular external interests like the TPPA to be involved in that and have control in that.
"We have a responsibility to ensure that we protect those interests and that's what we intend to do."
Mr Dargaville said if the TPPA went through exports of produce such as manuka honey, Maori rights to implement rahui to protect resources, and quotas for commercial fishing designed to sustain resources could be affected.
"We are exporting direct resources that we consider are sustainable, and not driving for volume but mainly quality. [The TPPA] will have an impact on all of that.
"We have a huge social responsibility to sustain the resource.
"Our responsibility as hapu and iwi is to make sure that the resource is there for the next generation to come."
Mr Dargaville said the TPPA might also affect Pharmac (Pharmaceutical Management Agency) processes regarding subsidies of medicines used in the community and public hospitals.
"Our people, a large proportion coming from low-socio economic backgrounds and having poor health, this will hugely affect them," he said.
Maori needed to be involved in TPPA discussions, he said.
"We cannot be on the outside of this."