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Maori Culture In Giant's Barren Garden

Trade Marks Bill Puts Maori Culture In Giant's Barren Garden

ACT commerce Spokesman Stephen Franks says the Government's Trade Marks Bill, having its first reading in Parliament today, will soon freeze Maori culture and symbols into the barren winter of the Giant's Garden. "Vibrant language, symbols and culture grow. Locking it up will benefit lawyers and a few privileged Maori but ultimately damages Maori language and culture.

"The Bill will enshrine power over Maori names and symbols in the hands of elite Maori. Lawyers will have a field day with disputes. Getting a trade mark with a distinct Aotearoa/New Zealand flavour, will become a nightmare. Anybody who says they feel culturally aggrieved will be able to object to new trade mark applications. Worse, they can invalidate and claim the benefit of existing trade marks.

"Imagine the choice facing a writer, film maker or craftsman using Maori symbols and wanting to trade mark his or her products. The elite will be able to jump in, say they've been culturally aggrieved and block the whole thing. Even where it is not driven by greed, interference will generate aversion, even loathing for things Maori that will be totally unfair to those who have not sought this law.

"The sinister thing is that this Bill could legitimise a whole new wave of money grabbing. This could trigger ransom demands for use of something that looks essentially New Zealand, like a Koru or fern frond shape. Air New Zealand is already said to have had to pay to retain the Koru on its tail for example.

"If you wanted a cunning scheme to stultify use of Maori symbols, language and culture, you could hardly do better.

"Why would anyone run the risk of using symbols that could later be expropriated, when you have a choice. The growing pride we have shared in identifying Aotearoa/New Zealand with distinctive Pacific shapes will come to a grinding halt.

"The safe thing will be to go back to bland international language and symbols. Our shared pride in unique Maori arts will vanish. Who wants to identify with something you are told you can never share, that you may be dunned for, and taken to court for using.

"This bill is more political correctness gone mad.

"ACT will vigorously oppose this legislation to entrench race privilege. There are many other sensible reforms in the legislation and looks forward to modernising those parts," Mr Franks said.

Ends


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