Govt hits back over Maori TPPA concerns

  • 22/01/2016

The Government is hitting back at claims the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal fails to adequately recognise the Treaty of Waitangi.

A paper reviewing the implications of the historic 12-nation agreement, which will be signed in Auckland on February 4, says Maori interests are not properly recognised despite the inclusion of a clause relation to the Treaty.

"It is extremely disappointing that the government would enter into such an agreement without securing effective protection for Maori, which the Treaty of Waitangi Exception fails to do," said paper co-author Carwyn Jones, a law lecturer at Victoria University.

But Trade Minister Todd McClay said there was nothing in the deal which would stop it meeting its obligations to Maori.

"As with all of New Zealand's free trade agreements since 2001, TPPA includes a specific provision preserving the pre-eminence of the Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand.

"The Treaty of Waitangi exception is in addition to the fact that the obligations in TPPA have been designed so as not to impair the ability of governments to make legitimate public policy," he said.

He released a factsheet detailing how the deal affects Maori, pointing out that the $40 billion worth of Maori economic assets were in sectors set to benefit from greater market access.

Ngapuhi elder Kingi Taurua has said he would consider blocking government ministers from Waitangi Day celebrations at Te Tii Marae if the deal was signed beforehand.

He says it would sign away their sovereignty, and details of what was in the trade deal had been kept secret from Maori.

The TPPA was finalised in October after five years of negotiations with Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam all parties to the agreement.

After it is signed the deal needs to be ratified by each country and the New Zealand government will submit the final text of the TPP and the National Interest Analysis to parliament as part of that process.