Scoop.co.nz, New Zealand
TAIHOA to TPPA - application for urgent Treaty hearing
24 June 2015
Press Release: Joint Media Statement
A group of esteemed Māori leaders and academics, including Dr Papaarangi Reid, Moana Jackson, Rikirangi Gage, Angeline Greensill, Hone Harawira and Moana Maniapoto have filed a claim and application for urgent hearing today in the Waitangi Tribunal.
The claim alleges that the government’s actions in negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPPA) are a breach of the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles.
The claimants say that the TPPA procedurally and substantively prejudices them and undermines the guarantees to Māori under the Treaty to the exercise of their tino rangatiratanga in governance decisions that affect them.
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 TPPA negotiations have been conducted in secret and our government has not released the text.
Leaked documents have revealed a number of provisions that will allow multi-national corporations to sue governments for loss of anticipated profits resulting from legislation or regulation for protection of the environment, health and other legitimate government concerns. This is of grave concern to the claimants given their ongoing disputes over mining, forestry and water, and the failure of the government to implement effective smoke free policies. These cases are brought in Tribunals outside New Zealand which do not follow existing case law and in which Māori have no right to participate.
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.
"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 center 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." says musician and documentary maker, Moana Maniapoto.
Māori health will also be jeopardised by intellectual property rules proposals to increase pharmaceutical monopoly rights and profits and make medicines less affordable. Māori are the most vulnerable to these changes.
The next steps in the Waitangi Tribunal process will involve a response by the Crown and other interested parties.