Nov 9/97: Transcript of discussion on MAI


T.V. One, "Marae"
November 9, 1997

Sent in by John Millar & Stu, Taamaki-makau-rau
distributed by Ngaa Kaiwhakanekeneke #105


Hone Edwards
Reporter/Director, Ngati Hikairo

Dr Lockwood Smith
Minister of International Trade
(a strong advocate of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment)

Makere Harawira
PhD Scholar

Moana Sinclair

Moana Jackson
Maori Legal Service / Ngaa Kaiwhakamaarama I Ngaa Ture

Aroha Mead
heads Maori Cultural Heritage [Unit] T.P.K. Head Office

Intro - Claudette Hauiti (Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, Ngati Porou, Ngapuhi, Ngati Kuta): Well, it's been dubbed 'the second coming of colonisation.' It's the Multi-lateral Agreement on Investment, a global economy of sorts which the Crown is considering joining.

What impact will this have on Maori and what does this mean for Treaty settlements?

Hone Edwards discusses the issue.

Hone Edwards: As the world moves towards a global economy, the Government has just released a proposed draft of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment that it plans on signing on behalf of the whole country as a backroom cabinet deal -a deal that Maori M.P. Tariana Turia referred to as "the second wave of colonisation" and what Alliance leader Jim Anderton called: "open slather foreign ownership of our economy."

But the question is: To what extent does the Multilateral Agreement on Investment affect the Treaty of Waitangi and Maori resources?

Dr Lockwood Smith: With respect to the Treaty of Waitangi, there is an absolute safeguard, you know, the reservation that we've put into the draft agreement is comprehensive. It basically, you know, reserves our rights with respect to the Treaty [of Waitangi] on all issues to do with the Treaty."

H.E.: However, the Treaty of Waitangi may well be a hindrance if we are to reduce economic barriers for foreign investors.

Makere Harawira: "What the M.A.I. agreement does is that it further undermines the very foundation of the Treaty itself, because the M.A.I. is all about enhancing Aotearoa in terms of making it more attractive to overseas investment in Aotearoa. Now, as it stands, of course, the Treaty can be seen as a hindrance to that - the M.A.I. is about removing all hindrances to open the market to liberalization of the economy."

H.E.: Many Maori are employed as forestry workers and their future looks bright under the new agreement, but what effect will it have on resources like forestry, protected under the Treaty?

Dr L-S: A third of all New Zealanders are employed as a consequence of foreign investment, direct foreign investment - in forestry, there are a lot of Maori people employed in forestry, a lot of forests are owned by Maori people, by Iwi, and as we look to the future there's around about $4.5 to $6.5 billion of investment required to harvest the forestry, the timber that is coming on stream and we don't have that money in New Zealand. We've got to actually attract foreign investment to enable us to actually harvest and process that timber. Now there're 30,000 jobs at stake for young New Zealanders, and I want those jobs, I want our young people to have those jobs and that is why this agreement is really very important for us."

H.E.: Although one-third of New Zealanders are employed as a direct consequence of foreign investment, there are many who have lost their jobs which is a concern voiced by Maori lawyer, Moana Sinclair who says for too long, Maori people have been mobilised labour.

Moana Sinclair: I think a good example of how transnationals and things will work is to look at the Watties canning factory in Gisborne and the whole shutdown and the moving out of people there, where, you know, a couple of generations relied on the ability to work in that factory and that now no longer exists and it has been bought out by Heinz and so, you know, we become, then, caught up in the whims of transnational companies...

H.E.: Although Maori fishermen still face uncertainty over how the Maori fishing quota will be divvied up, there is concern that the Multilateral Agreement on trade could make the Maori fishing quota redundant - if the objective is to reduce all economic barriers for foreign investment and open up our local fishing economy to foreign ownership - Moana Jackson for the Maori Legal Service:

Moana Jackson: I think there are fundamental flaws in the [fishing] quota system anyway, and what this agreement does is expose it to open investment by foreign companies and they could argue that quota reserved for Maori could actually be a restraint on the agreement and the New Zealand government could be required to remove the quotas.

Dr L-S: No, that wouldn't happen because the Maori fishing quota is a very important property of Maori and it has been allocated under the Treaty of Waitangi and it is not under threat at all.

H.E.: The ill-fated ATN Maori television station was the first attempt at a stand alone channel. But under the future climate of a multilateral agreement on investment there is no doubt ATN would have been a prime target for foreign investors.

M.J.: Well, there is a possibility, for example, that if the Crown did allow provision for say the establishment of a Maori language channel, that used up a certain amount of television assets and frequencies and so on, that could be seen to be in breach of the agreement, and say a foreign media transnational could actually take the New Zealand government to a dispute resolution process because in granting Maori access to television they could be seen to be acting in breach of the agreement.

H.E.: Television New Zealand is still high on the list of government priorities for asset sales - one of the issues here for Maori is what will happen to the copyright of Maori programmes held in the station's archives?

M.H.: Vast amounts of Maori knowledge are stored in the archives of Television New Zealand and the current regime of privatising, and of course, Television New Zealand is part of that, what happens, who owns that knowledge, who owns that reservoir of Maori knowledge that is stored in the archives? The purchaser owns it.

M.J.: There will be effectively no protection for our taonga and the claims being made at present before the Waitangi Tribunal are threatened quite directly by this agreement.

H.E.: The consultation with Maori over the Fiscal Cap for Treaty settlements gave the Government a resounding 'No' and now, only after pressure, has the Government agreed to consult Maori about this new international trade agreement.

M.S.: This consultation that the Government says they are going to have well, we know all about that consultation, you know, the fiscal envelope - unanimous rejection; the fiscal envelope is still very much operating.

H.E.: Aroha Mead heads the Maori Cultural Heritage [Unit] at Te Puni Kokiri Head Office.

Aroha Mead: It may not be a consultation that's ideal and it might be a little bit too late but nevertheless the decision has been made and it's been made after a great deal of consideration.

M.J.: But the fact that they have negotiated this agreement in secret, that they have effectively only responded to a consultation process with our people because of pressure from our people indicates that they gave very little emphasis to the treaty relationship at any stage of the proceedings.

M.H.: Now I understand that there is going to be further consultation with Maori taking place in December - I understand also that that level of consultation is not about whether or not Maori should participate in the Multilateral Agreement on Investment; it's about the wording of the reservation. If it's only about the wording of the reservation, then I think we have a real problem.

H.E.: When the $1 billion fiscal cap was proposed by the government, the furore after the consultation with Maori was: Government didn't listen to what Maori were saying and it highlights some of the flaws in the 'democratic process' between the treaty partners.

M.H.: If we think that democracy is about people participating in decision making, It certainly hasn't been democratic. If, as Maori, as a treaty partner, we have a notion that Maori are entitled to participate in very important decisions that affect the fundamental values and rights of all human beings, then I would have to say that, certainly, Maori as the treaty partner have not been a participant in this decision making process.

H.E.: Maori business enterprises may well profit from the move towards a global economy. In the meantime, if the Government signs the agreement, the danger for Maori lies not in the present - but in the future.

Accumulated and reposted by and for NGAA KAIWHAKANEKENEKE
c/o John Tovey
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