High profile Māori file Waitangi Tribunal claim over TPPA

A claim and application for an Urgent Hearing has been filed with the Waitangi Tribunal alleging the government is breaching the Treaty of Waitangi principles in its negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

A number of prominent Māori have filed the claim and the group includes Dr Papaarangi Reid, Moana Jackson, Rikirangi Gage, Angeline Greensill, Hone Harawira and Moana.

According to the claimants the meeting of ministers to make final decisions on the TPPA is imminent. Adoption of the agreement by New Zealand will not require consent of Parliament, there is no mandatory involvement of Māori nor any obligation to assess the implications for the Treaty of Waitangi.

The group also claims “the TPPA negotiations have been conducted in secret and our government has not released the text.”

The government has also failed to protect Māori intellectual property rights in its negotiation of the TPPA; there is no consideration of the Waitangi Tribunal’s report on the Wai 262 report, Ko Aotearoa Tenei.

According to musician Moana Maniapoto "Māori have been struggling to protect our culture in the face of an IP system that has never been a good fit for our people and culture. The experience of having my name trademarked by a company in Germany brought it home in a very personal way how much our language, culture and music is being appropriated left, right and centre by companies. The WAI262 Claim reiterated that. There's been no movement by the government to undo existing agreements or legislation that fail to protect our culture. Yet the government wants to haul us all into a hefty - and very secret - international agreement that will disempower Māori even more? I am very concerned about this - especially given the track record of the key player, the US.”

The next steps in the Waitangi Tribunal process will involve a response by the Crown and other interested parties.