A Rotorua musician is one of several Maori leaders and academics who have filed a claim and application for an urgent Waitangi Tribunal hearing regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Moana Maniapoto, Dr Papaarangi Reid, Moana Jackson, Rikirangi Gage, Angeline Greensill and Hone Harawira say the Government's actions in negotiating the controversial partnership agreement have breached the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles.

The claim was filed with the tribunal on Wednesday. The agreement (TPPA) involves 12 Asian and Pacific countries including the United States. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade says it aims to create a regional free trade agreement.

The Maori claimants say the agreement "procedurally and substantively prejudices" them and undermines the guarantees to Maori under the Treaty to exercise their tino rangatiratanga in governance decisions that affect them. Maniapoto has previously been outspoken about the agreement, having featured in the "It's Not Democracy, It's Not Right" campaign in 2013.


In 2002 she had to release her album, Moana, under a different name in Germany after a German company copyrighted the name and licensed it to a German trip-hop band.

"Maori have been struggling to protect our culture in the face of an intellectual property system that has never been a good fit for our people and culture," she said. "The experience of having my name trademarked by a company in Germany brought it home in a very personal way how much our language, culture and music is being appropriated left, right and centre by companies ...

"There's been no movement by the Government to undo existing agreements or legislation that fail to protect our culture. Yet the Government wants to haul us all into a hefty - and very secret - international agreement that will disempower Maori even more? I am very concerned ... especially given the track record of the key player, the United States."

The claimants said the next step in the tribunal process would involve a response by the Crown and other interested parties.

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