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Te Pāti Māori To Oppose UK Free Trade Deal

Te Pāti Māori Co-leader and trade spokesperson Rawiri Waititi is today announcing that Te Pāti Māori will oppose the United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement Legislation Bill, a trade deal which shut Māori out of negotiations, and that fails to protect Māori rights and interests.

“This free trade agreement signed between our Government and the UK is yet another failed opportunity to reimagine trade policy and move away from this colonial model that has been imposed on us,” said Mr Waititi.

“Vague statements about how Māori will be better off under this trade agreement is not partnership. It is not Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Once again, tangata whenua have been side-lined and treated as just another demographic the government can tag in their comms.

“The Foreign Affairs, Defence & Trade Committee have heard from Crown-recognised Māori trade advocates Ngā Toki Whakarururanga that the trade negotiations were entirely controlled by the Government. They alone decided the negotiating mandate, what compromises were acceptable and the final text, with no role at the table for Māori separate from the Crown.

“When Ngā Toki Whakarururanga’s technical advisers were provided with an edited version of the draft text in late 2021, its contents had to be kept secret which meant they could not consult with Māori outside the rōpū.

“According to their report: the Treaty of Waitangi exception clause allowing “more favourable treatment” to Māori remained unchanged from previous Free Trade agreements dating back to 2001, despite recommendations from the Waitangi Tribunal, the Government’s Trade for All advisory board and the mediation agreement that more effective protections were needed.

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“The Māori trade chapter, while a first for Aotearoa, focused only on commercial interests for Māori but ignored wider concerns about the protection of our rights and interests. There are also no provisions to protect matauranga Māori from exploitation.

“This is no more evident than when the UK’s Intellectual Property Office denied a trademark for mānuka honey “based on cultural ignorance and culturally inappropriate legal tests.

“This is a missed opportunity to have our first ever Tiriti centric trade policy. Aotearoa could lead the way on indigenous trade policy and intellectual property rights.

“Any trade agreement that is not born of Te Tiriti o Waitangi is not legitimate in the eyes of Te Pāti Māori. We will not be supporting this legislation,” said Mr Waititi.

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