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Sharples: Geographical Indications Bill

Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration Bill

Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leader, Maori Party

Thursday 3 August 2006

Four days ago, the nation willingly contributed to the extinction of the last living representative of the reptilian order.

And before anyone starts talking out about Fred and Wilma, Barney and Betty, or even little Dino, let me tell you what I’m talking about.

The Maori Party acknowledges the demise of a tupuna, who is the sole survivor from a lineage stretching back around over 225 million years ago.

A tupuna who up until Monday graced our five cents coins. The Tuatara, the unique living fossil which exist today in their ancestral home of Takapourewa (Stephens Island) in the Cook Straits.

The survival of the tuatara was threatened by habitat loss, introduced animals and global warming, and now it seems, the de-commissioning of currency.

But for Ngati Koata, of the Marlborough Sounds, protection and rights of the tuatara had nothing to do with the Reserve Bank.

Indeed, it was the concern they had over the failure of the Crown to protect the exercise of tino rangatiratanga and kaitiakitanga over their indigenous flora and fauna, such as the tuatara, that saw them join with Ngati Kuri, Ngati Wai, Te Rarawa, Ngati Porou and Ngati Kahungunu to present the 262nd claim lodged with the Waitangi Tribunal - known as WAI 262.

For Ngati Koata, their iwi responsibilities of kaitiakitanga have seen them care for the tuatara without the need for the Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration Bill.

And so it was that when local wine-producer, Waimea Estates, first announced their latest wine would be launched with the Tuatara label, that Ngati Koata upheld their kaitiaki responsibilities to provide protection for the geographical indication of their ancestral name.

Such was the significance of the authenticity of that name, the identity, the whakapapa of the tuatara, that Ngati Koata were able to impress upon Waimea Estate, a recognition of their ownership, control and protection of their cultural and intellectual property.

And so it came to be that on 5 June 2006, Waimea Estate introduced a new label in the United States with a flashy launch at the New Zealander Restaurant in Alameda, California. The latest addition from the Waimea winecellar - the Spinyback label.

It was a win-win all round.

Ngati Koata retain the naming rights of their customary and intellectual heritage rights associated with the tuatara.

Waimea Estates capitalises on a unique brand, and an arrangement was worked out between the wine-producer and the iwi, to ensure that Ngati Koata also benefit the use of their intellectual property rights.

And it’s going to be a good deal more than a five cent coin.

All this was achieved before this Bill ever saw the light of day.

The Bill sets in place legislative obligation to provide protection for ‘geographical indications’; location specific “naming rights”, which the TRIPS agreement classifies as intellectual property.

The TRIPS agreement, the World Trade Office Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights creates the incentive to establish an effective administrative system to establish, process and maintain registration; to deal to restrictions on use of geographical indications and exemptions; and to set in place an appeals process to challenge decisions by the registrar, if necessary.

Well that’s a lot of words, and systems, and processes, and administration for what Ngati Koata and Waimea Estate seem to have done pretty much on their own already.

Don’t get me wrong - the Maori Party believes that geographical indicators have the most potential of all the provisions in the TRIPS agreement to benefit indigenous peoples.

In their essence, they could offer protection and rights over the regionally based products and produce of hapu and iwi.

But this Bill is not about protection of indigenous crops.

It is not about the legal, customary rights of biological and genetic resources, of indigenous and taonga species.

It does not cover pohutukawa, koromiko (hebe); kumara, puawananga (clematis), indigenous forests, kereru (pigeon), pupuharakeke (flax snail), or the tuatara.

It is about wine - which is not indigenous to Aotearoa.

But that’s not why we’re opposed to this Bill.

It comes back to the questions asked by the WAI 262 claimants, Dell Wihongi, Haana Murray, the late John Hippolite, the late Tama Poata, Katarina Rimene and the late Te Witi McMath.

They have asked does the law or trade marks in Aotearoa recognise kaitiakitanga?

Is the use of the trade mark registration system by third parties in relation to taonga works, particularly design and symbols, a breach of the Treaty of Waitangi or its principles?

What about the scope of the Mataatua Declaration on Cultural and Intellectual property rights of Indigenous Peoples - or the draft Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples - how do these international treaties enhance the protection, preservation, control, use, development, regulation of matauranga Maori?

The Mataatua Declaration signed at Whakatane in 1993 recognises the importance of self-determination to enabling indigenous peoples to protect our culture, customs and intellectual property rights.

You see, there are already protective mechanisms in place. There is already the flora and fauna and cultural intellectual property claim before the Tribunal.

The draft declaration of indigenous peoples of the United Nations - which to their shame, this Government has shied away from - states that

“Indigenous people are entitled to the recognition of the full ownership, control and protection of the cultural and intellectual property”.

That means, in plain English, Maori words and names.

And yet what we have in this Bill, is a proposal put up to safeguard and preserve the name, ‘Marlborough’, as one of the foremost Sauvignon blanc wine regions in the world.

The bill will preserve the uniqueness of the location called Marlborough.

But wait just a minute. What about Marlborough, just west of Boston? Or Marlborough of Wiltshire, England?

And while we’re talking about original names, what about Kenepuru, Te Tai Tapu, Te Wairau, Awatere - the names of the original peoples, the mana whenua, of this area, Marlborough.

If we’re looking for trade names, let’s look at the registration of Awatere Terrace Vineyards in this area. This Bill, introduces the first-in-time, first-in right principle, for determining which right has the priority.

So theoretically, Awatere Terrace Vineyards - who were first in - can use the word Awatere; and Tohu Vines, the first indigenous wine company producing wine for domestic and export markets, would be deprived of that right, their own name.

The name, Awatere, comes from their whakapapa.

Yet this Bill we are discussing today, might prevent Tohu wines from using their own name, their name passed down along whakapapa lines.

The Bill does state that in very limited circumstances, there is the potential of a later-filed geographical indication to be registered despite a pre-existing trade mark having priority.

In determining whether a later-filed geographical indication is to be registered, the Registrar considers such things as the legitimate interests of the owner of the trade mark and of third parties, and other factors, which may include international considerations.

Yet given the appalling recent record overseas of this Government, in the increasingly hostile position towards indigenous peoples and our right to self-determination, one wonders if cultural appropriation would cause any concern.

Indeed, one wonders if the Government is opening the gate for cultural appropriation and the denigration of indigenous people to be acceptable.

Let’s recap - deleting the Treaty from legislation; deleting the Treaty from education; removing Maori arts from the curriculum; foreshore and seabed…..shall we go on?

The Maori Party recognises the tino rangatiratanga of hapu and iwi in relation to their own cultural heritage rights and taonga.
And because of that recognition, we will not support this Bill.

ENDS

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