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Sharples: Tariff Amendment Bill

Tariff (Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership) Amendment Bill

Second Reading

Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leader, Maori Party

Tuesday 21 March 2006

When the Maori Party addressed this House at the first reading of this Bill, we raised the notion that the Treaty statement in the National Interest Analysis could have been an excellent opportunity to see this Bill as a test case for really understanding the implications of the Treaty.

We have the unique situation in this Parliament of being flush with Members Bills which place before the House the concept of the Principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi - and yet ironically, here is an opportunity for the Government to demonstrate leadership about this area which it has overlooked - or worse yet - actively neglected.

The National Interest Analysis included the statement “there is nothing in this Agreement which will prevent the Government from fulfilling any obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi”.

How much more proactive it would have been to see the Government honouring its obligations - instead of the rather pitiful and negative response highlighted here.

We could have had a strong statement about the Crown committing to being the guarantor and protector of the Maori interest - and the implications this brings with it for largely unexplored relationships between the two signatories.

This nation is on the brink of a major change in the conduct of the affairs of the Nation must be interpreted in ways in which taonga Maori are actively protected.

This Bill could have been a starter in even tentatively exploring these implications.

Article two is relevant in fulfilling the aspirations of Maori to live according to kaupapa (or values) and tikanga that derive from these kaupapa.

But so too, is Article three. The guarantee of article three, the investment in the survival of Maori as citizens of the nation, could lead to fresh thinking in all aspects of the policy programme.

How would this work in the Tariff (Tras-Pacific strategic economic partnership) Bill?

The real impacts for tangata whenua that would emerge from this agreement are to do with investment, economic development and employment options that will be adversely impacted upon.

Have officials involved in putting together this agreement, understood the likely implications for Maori women losing their jobs in the clothing and textile industry?

What impact will increased foreign ownership of New Zealand assets and resources by investors from Chile, Brunei and Singapore have for tangata whenua?

How will the employment and cultural development of Maori be affected by this agreement?

Will it have any downstream effects for the embedding of intellectual and cultural property rights?

Taking the time to flesh out in more detail, the development of mechanisms, both legal and policy, to protect Māori cultural heritage including matauranga Maori is a way of giving life to Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the foundation of our nation.

The Maori Party supports the continuing development of international standards to protect the world’s oral traditions, intangible cultural heritage, endangered languages and promotion of cultural and linguistic diversity.

One would also hope the Government would be aware of existing indigenous declarations, including the Mataatua Declaration on cultural and intellectual property, and be proud of these as a means of distinguishing Aotearoa on the world scene. I note how the performance of the haka at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games is being lauded as one of the symbols that make us different from the rest of the Commonwealth and indeed, the world.

I have taken the time to give detail to what it would mean to apply treaty principles to the nation-to-nation strategic economic partnership agreement under discussion, as I fear all too often in this House, that point-scoring and derision can mean opportunities for learning and challenge are missed.

The relationship with Chile, Brunei, Darussalem, New Zealand and Singapore, is an opportunity for tangata whenua to be involved in the decision making process on international trade - providing us with the reason to scrutinise trade treaties as to their compliance with Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

It is of vital importance that we open our lines of enquiry about the processes by which international agreements are made, and monitor to ensure our nation’s wellbeing is protected, supported and enhanced.

As an example of this approach, I want to turn to another relationship document, the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, to show how we need to improve upon our position with respect to international agreements.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs recently reported that there were four factors that must be understand about New Zealand’s position on the draft declaration:

1. it must be consistent with New Zealand law and policy

2. it must be consistent with existing human rights law

3. it must protect the rights of all citizens; and it must

4. safeguard the territorial integrity and political unity of States as well as the responsibility of democratically elected governments to govern for the welfare of all their citizens.

This was a fascinating statement of subterfuge, which mentions ‘all citizens’ twice, and yet fails to mention the indigenous people, tangata whenua, Maori.

He was explaining the draft declaration on the rights of indigenous people and yet not once was the word indigenous used. In defending his statement, the Minister explains that :

“The imperatives New Zealand requires in the Declaration are legitimate ones for any democratically elected government. Other States take a similar position on these imperatives, including Australia and the United States”.

Of course I don’t need to point out to this House, the value or otherwise, of comparing the profile of how this nation addresses the status of indigenous peoples to how the Australian nation addresses its Aboriginal communities, or how the States addresses its native American first nation people.

But the question I do want to raise is the bizarre circumstance of a policy about the Indigenous People which twinks out indigenous and replaces with ‘all citizens’.

Hence we get the bizarre situation of a:

- position on New Zealand’s indigenous people which fails to mention them;

- or a visionless Budget Policy statement released last May which forgot to identify Maori as part of this citizens of this land; or a

- foreshore and seabed policy which extinguishes the rights of the indigenous peoples.

When are we going to get brave enough to be proud of our indigenous people, and showcase our distinctive relationships with our first nations people through Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

One only has to look at the Commonwealth Games to understand how critical these relationship are with indigenous societies.

When Moss Burmester won the 200m butterfly at the pool on the opening night of swimming, the haka the New Zealand team performed in his honour sent ripples throughout the Commonwealth. It has got people talking -trying to understand the relevance of the cultural honour accorded through this practice.

While athletes are competing in the games venue, a parallel cultural event entitled the Stolenwealth Games is happening in another part of Melbourne.

Thousands of Aboriginal people from around Australia and across the globe have made their presence felt in drawing attention to the ongoing injustices of Government enforced destruction of indigenous societies.

They are gathering on Boon Wurrong Land known as Kings Domain under the banner of "The Black GST" - standing for Genocide, Sovereignty and Treaty.

Black GST Elder Robbie Thorpe described the event as demonstrating to the world, the history of the Commonwealth in oppressing indigenous people across the globe in a common experience of exploitation over generations.

I raise this issue today, as I believe it is always important to look beyond the rhetoric of documents negotiated by officials to see what the situation is for the peoples of those communities.

If we are to seriously enter into any trans-Pacific economic partnerships we must as a first point ensure that there the indigenous peoples of this land are protected - and con-currently ensure that the indigenous peoples of Chile and the other nations implicated, are taken good care of.

A Trans-Tasman agreement, say with Chile, could have been beneficial if it helps to facilitate economic and cultural linkages between Maori and Chile’s indigenous people, including the Mapuche from Mainland Chile and the Rapa Nui of Easter Island, who have historical linkages with Maori.

The Maori Party urge all New Zealanders to become better informed about the Treaty of Waitangi, including the rights and obligations of the both Crown and Maori, and the rights of indigenous peoples under international law. We need to seek constructive dialogue rather than divisive statements from our politicians. We need continued tolerance and enthusiasm on all sides.

Until we are in that position, it may be better just to sort out our own backyard!


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