This week's Newsmaker is Marama Meikle, Rotorua/Te Arawa TPPA Action Group chairwoman, who is heading to Auckland this week to protest against the signing of the controversial trade deal.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
For the most part I'm quite a private person and prefer not to speak about myself, but rather let people decide what they will about me. It's kind of like I'd rather my mahi (work) speak for itself rather than me speak about it. I'm definitely a person of action and as the saying goes actions speak louder than words.
What got you involved in the Rotorua/Te Arawa TPPA Action Group?
During the 2014 general election I helped campaign and a core group of us were actively promoting awareness on the TPP, yet no political party was paying attention.
So I thought to myself I'm going to run a march against this and from there it turned into a whirlwind of actions which led me to where I am now. I am the chairperson of this roopu (group) and I work on various levels to promote awareness, ultimately creating a movement against the TPP.
What are your main concerns about the TPP?
It's corporate-led not people-led. It's a deal that was designed by corporates for corporates. The reality of this deal is that it's not about trade at all for the most part as very few traditional elements of trade exist within the deal itself. It's about trading away our sovereignty, our basic human rights and handing over free rein to foreign investors who will have the power to override our laws and potentially sue us for interfering with their profit margins. The fact that no respect has been shown for tangata whenua and the Treaty of Waitangi, Maori haven't been consulted and the treaty exception is no guarantee of protection. The amount of secrecy that initially surrounded the deal, and still does, regarding the background text which won't be released until four years after the signing should cause immense concern because we don't know what the government has actually traded off to get us the minimal and exaggerated benefits as opposed to the huge losses we will incur in the future. We have more to lose than we stand to gain from this deal and must do all that we can to stand up and oppose it.
What are your favourite things about living in Rotorua?
I love living in Rotorua because of its unique and ever-changing environment that is blessed with unlimited potential and provides us with multiple means of sustainability. One of the highlights of my time here is having had the experience of witnessing the inception of the Te Arawa Partnership Board-Te Tatau O Te Arawa. I've been so blessed to work alongside the most amazing kaitiaki who contribute massively to the health and wellbeing of our people and the whenua. Through them I gather strength and live in the hope that provides me the faith that the foundation on which we stand will only grow stronger and stronger. With the Te Arawa Partnership in place balance can begin to be restored.
Tell us three things most people would not know about you.
I am quite a shy person, even though I lead marches against the TPP and such things. I love Harry Potter and vampire books, they allow me a space to escape into a world of mystery and fantasy and I'm passionate about promoting real leaders and helping to establish tools and support for people to exercise their leadership potential. I don't own a TV. They are far too distracting. Who has time for TV?