Emails raise questions over engagement with Māori over TPP

By Heta Gardiner

Te Kāea has obtained some email exchanges between Te Puni Kōkiri (TPK) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade which show a lack of engagement with Māori regarding the TPP. 

Our Te Kāea political reporter Heta Gardiner says the documents show a very limited timeframe to review documents, and as a result, some senior managers at TPK were given a limited timeframe to be involved in the process.

The Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Todd McClay says "TPP consultation was widespread, “It's one of the most widely consulted agreements that we've had in New Zealand.”

But not everyone agrees.

In emails attained exclusively by Te Kāea, MFAT wanted to state that "The Ministry engaged with the Business Development Unit of Te Puni Kōkiri to engage Māori participation in the stakeholders' consultations."

But TPK responded by saying they needed the statement to be "adjusted as follows":

Instead of having "engaged with Te Puni Kōkiri", MFAT needed to say that TPK's involvement was to "confirm an approach."

Green MP Marama Davidson says, “There was very little consultation with Māori regarding the TPPA. According to MFAT, they engaged with TPK, but that looks very misleading.”

Additionally, emails from TPK to MFAT say they were, "Only able to review some of the elements of the papers as certain key members are away from the office." 

The email thread shows that TPK only had two days to review the documents.

“That document was given to a number of government departments. It's not true to say that they haven't had involvement over TPP, in fact, TPK were one of the TPP partners,” says McClay.

Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell says this is not an issue for ministers to address, “Operational issues regarding TPK are things better addressed by their CEO.”

Although I approached them last week, TPK was not available for comment on this issue today. Consultation hui on the TPP with Māori are currently going on around the country.