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Multi-national cultural appropriation concerns

Tariana Turia, Co-leader, Maori Party

The Maori Party today welcomed the news that the claim to the Waitangi Tribunal for Indigenous flora and fauna, WAI 262, will be back before the Tribunal next week.

This claim, brought against the Crown in 1991 by the members of six iwi (Ngäti Kuri, Ngäti Wai, Te Rarawa, Ngäti Porou, Ngäti Kahungunu and Ngäti Koata) is of huge importance to tangata whenua, and the nation, for its statement of exclusive and comprehensive rights to flora and fauna, cultural knowledge and property as taonga protected by Article Two of the Treaty of Waitangi.

“We are bearing witness, more and more, to various forms of cultural assault which reflect the alienation and exploitation of traditional knowledge” said Mrs Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party.

“The attack against powhiri; the criticism of haka; the misappropriation of cultural motifs on cigarette boxes are all recent examples of an attempt to oppress mätauranga Mäori (Mäori traditional knowledge); and reduce our ability to preserve our tino rangatiratanga” said Mrs Turia.

“WAI 262 is just as relevant in 2006 as it was some fifteen years ago" said Mrs Turia.

“At the heart of WAI 262 is the statement from the claimants that the Crown has breached the Treaty of Waitangi by agreeing to various international agreements and obligations that affect indigenous flora and fauna and intellectual property rights and rights to other taonga”.

“The Maori Party warns of the interest and influence of multi-national companies who with the collusion of Governments such as ours, set themselves to control and own indigenous flora, fauna and knowledge - not for the benefit of the indigenous people, but for the benefit of their shareholders”.

“These are momentous issues in the national landscape” said Mrs Turia. “We will be watching the proceedings with extreme interest”.

ENDS

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