Maori Party seeks shares in 4G network

  • 21/02/2013

The Government has got itself into another row with Maori over a resource it wants to sell off.

This time it’s not water, but the radio waves.

It’s refused to give Maori claimants shares in the upcoming auction of the 4G network, in a decision Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia has compared to the land grabs of 170 years ago.

The iPhone 5 runs on 4G, which is the next-generation radio spectrum for wireless broadband that's about to become available.

It will be up to 10 times faster than today's speeds.

Some Maori groups say the radio waves are a taonga, or treasure, and they deserve a share.

“They've been very clear that the spectrum is a taonga, and we have a difference of opinion on that,” says Communications Minister Amy Adams.

The claimants wanted to get shares in the spectrum, but the Government decided that's a no-go, and its governing partner - the Maori Party - isn't happy.

“The days when the Government can continue to take resources that were here before Pakeha were established in this country - I think those days are fast coming to an end,” says Ms Turia.

The 4G network will generate $2.4 billion over 20 years. There will be no shares for Maori claimants; instead they will receive an offer of a $30 million information technology fund.

And the Government says claimants should be excited by that.

“There's some really exciting ways at how we can transition Maori language and culture into the modern digital world,” says Ms Adams.

But Ms Turia isn't excited at all. She says the $30 million offer is a disgrace, akin to the beads and blankets early Maori traded land away for.

“We're back to the beads and blankets days,” she says.

Ms Turia has called for claimants to go back and challenge the move at the Waitangi tribunal.

So just like with the water claim related to asset sales, Maori claimants wanted shares in the radio waves as it was sold off. But just like with water, the Government didn't want a bar of that. The Maori Party is once again angry with John Key and National, but once again it’s yet to be seen if they will do anything about it. 

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source: newshub archive