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Flavell: Tariff Amendment Bill

Tariff (Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership) Amendment Bill 2006

Te Ururoa Flavell; Spokesperson Foreign Affairs and Trade

Wednesday 1 March 2006

The Māori Party contribution to this debate, is based on a history of negotiation and alliances, driven by the potential for strategic and economic opportunities for Aotearoa. It is a history we know well which guides our decision-making on all international trade agreements.

As this Nation entered the second half of the 19th century the Maori partner to Te Tiriti o Waitangi was the dominant force in a vibrant, growing and prosperous economy.

For an example of that we just need to look up State Highway One and we will be in the rohe of Ngāti Toa Rangatira.

Two years ago, in the closing submissions of counsel for Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Matiu Rei, Te Waari Carkeek and Professor Richard Boast, among others, gave evidence on the trading empire developed by Ngati Toa with the Pākehā/Europeans. They described the harvesting of flax, the use of European vessels and technology and the full scale involvement in the whaling trade.

Evidence was given from Professor Alan Ward and Dr Ann Parsonson of the reputation Ngāti Toa acquired as a maritime trading empire, controlling trade and use of the Coast and access across both sides of Cook Strait.

The significance of the coast and trade routes for Ngati Toa, and their history of relationship building, of alliances, marriages, negotiations and resource sharing, provided a solid base for an agreement to develop trade and benefit from multilateral co-operation.

The concept of nation-to-nation strategic economic partnership agreements is therefore very familiar to tangata whenua.

Yet despite the glowing reputation of Ngāti Toa as an aggressive and energetic entrepreneurial group, their fortunes just as rapidly deteriorated. Submissions to the Tribunal included the following:

“Ngati Toa, one of the most powerful tribes in Te Tau Ihu as at 1840, ideally situated, equipped with outstanding resources and exceptional leadership, a signatory to the Treaty and keen to benefit from the “benefits” of European settlement, found itself by the turn of the century marginalized.

Impoverished and reduced to virtually no land base, with its leadership scattered and decimated, its traditional tribal relationships and customary land tenure in a state of disarray.

So something happened, and this is where we come in as the Māori Party. We are here to defend the rights and uphold the aspirations of the indigenous peoples of the world.

In considering this legislation, I am thinking about Brunei indigenous communities of Malay, Kedayan, Tutong, Belait, Bisaya, Dusun and Murut. What happens when local or regional sovereignty interacts with multi-national and international identity?

Such processes necessarily entail an inevitable loss of local identity and local or ethnic practices which become subsumed under flows of global trade, colonialism and assumptions of universalism.

How will the Brunei indigenous communities benefit from this Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic partnership?

The Bill proposes that Singapore will act as a hub in Southeast Asia, and that Chile will become a similar launch pad for South America.

But still there are some questions that concern us. How will the indigenous communities fare from this four-way trade agreement which opens the door to wider trade liberalization within the APEC region?

Have these communities experienced the same reversal of fortunes we saw with Ngāti Toa - or for that matter, any hapū or iwi?

Have similar steps been taken to destroy the mana and rangatiratanga, the polity and power base, of indigenous communities implicated in this Trans-Pacific Agreement?

Our knowledge of the indigenous communities, is that across the globe, traditional ways of life and homelands are being destroyed by over-population growth and industrial development. All in the name of progress, but to whose advantage?

Since the Spanish conquest indigenous peoples have been used as labourers, poorly paid and lacking political representation. While these conditions of semi-servitude are changing slowly, it was just four months ago that the indigenous people living in Chile, gathered in Santiago, in the First Forum of Indigenous Peoples on Poverty Eradication; and gave us some indication of the plight they face.

Their letter to the Presidents of Latin America and Caribbean, makes for interesting reading as we consider their place in this Bill today. I quote:

“In spite of the call by the international community with regards to decisively improving the human rights situation of Indigenous Peoples, the State of Chile persistently refuses to acknowledge Indigenous Peoples and their rights in the constitution. This legal lack of protection in terms of collective rights places indigenous peoples at a disadvantage before the rest of the Chilean society.

In particular, for Indigenous Peoples like the Aymara, Quechuas and Likanantay, a real commitment to overcome poverty implies the acknowledgement and enjoyment of our rights to superficial and subterranean water sources, the acknowledgement of our rights over mining fields existing in our ancestral land and the right to have a share in profits resulting from their exploitation”.

I ask this House to seriously consider how we can sign up to a four-way trade agreement linking Latin America, the Pacific and Asia, when such gaps exist between the rights of the indigenous peoples of these lands.

One would hope that this nation, understanding the strategic and constitutional significance of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, would ensure Treaty responsiveness in any international trade and tariff agreements that the Government is entering into. The Māori Party is therefore looking for a guaranteed involvement of Māori as Treaty partners in the negotiation or enforcement of process under agreements.

The National Interest Analysis, however, is guarded in its application of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. It states that the Trans-Pacific agreement contains “safeguards to ensure that there are no adverse effects on New Zealand cultural values, including Māori interests”. It’s hardly a full endorsement of pride in tangata whenua achievement.

This could have been an excellent opportunity for the New Zealand government to recognize the unique contribution that Māori offer to the domestic New Zealand economy.

Instead the strongest position put forward is that there is nothing in the Agreement which will prevent the Government from fulfilling any obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

It’s no wonder, that there is a general skepticism on behalf of tangata whenua, that these acknowledgments amount to little less than paper promises. Commitments are avoided, and any real benefit is geared primarily to the Crown - not Māori - or any of the other indigenous parties implicated in this relationship.

The relationships envisaged for tangata whenua communities as Treaty signatories should entitle us to enjoy rights as a Treaty partner that attach to these international agreements. The commitments articulated in Te Tiriti o Waitangi, should translate into international trade agreements such as the Tariff Trans-Pacific strategic economic partnership agreement. Promises made should be promises upheld.

There is certainly space for greater collaboration between Māori and other indigenous communities about how international agreements like the Te Tiriti o Waitangi could work in practice at international and domestic levels in contemporary times. Our Treaties should be used as affirmation of, or a source of, political rights and status. They should be used to provide power as a vehicle for revitalization.

Another area of mutual collaboration is the thorny issue of indigenous peoples being deprived of intellectual property. This is so with patents: thousands in the case of Maori.

GATT (the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade), negotiated by governments with imperceptible participation by Maori and other indigenous peoples, has facilitated the grab for rongoa intellectual property by global organisations. The evidence is in the flora and fauna Waitangi Tribunal claim. Yet there is a curious silence, an omission of the word indigenous, in the section on intellectual property.

Child poverty is one of the most serious threats to our future prosperity. Such awareness must guide us in any challenges or new directions being conceived for a country’s political sovereignty.

Returning to the letter of October 2005, the Latin American and Caribbean Presidents were told:

“We, Mapuche People gathered in this Forum of Indigenous Peoples for the eradication of poverty strongly believe that overcoming poverty in our communities implies the acknowledgement of our right to our ancestral territory, the right to land and natural resources and to have access to profits resulting from them”.

The Māori Party will not stand by and turn a blind eye to the situation faced by our indigenous peoples and the gross injustice and inequalities outlined by the indigenous communities implicated in this Bill.

Our decision to oppose the Bill, is finally influenced by an ancient Incan Prophecy from Mapuche people of Chile and Argentina. The prophecy from Willaru Huayata, Incan "Chasqui" (messenger) is that:

"One day the great sacred birds of the North and the South
will fly together. When the eagle of the North and the Condor of the South fly together, the Earth will awaken. The eagles of the North cannot be free without the condors of the South. Now it is happening. Now is the time."

Indeed, now is the time for the Māori Party to defend the rights and uphold the aspirations of the indigenous communities across the globe. In doing so we honour the inherent entrepreneurial capacity of tangata whenua, and will do our very best to protect it for future generations.


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