Thank you for the opportunity to address you today.
I want to start with a whakataukī – he kai kei aku ringa – there is food at the end of my hands. Each year, the Auckland Trade and Economic Policy School brings together people with a wide range of backgrounds, ideas and resources. Each of you can effect positive change in our trade kaupapa, and I encourage you to use this conference today to do so.
Māori influence on New Zealand trade policy has come a long way in a very short period of time. In 2019, then Associate Minister for Trade and Export Growth, Nanaia Mahuta, established a programme of work designed to support Māori Trade: Aotearoa ki te Ao. As Parliamentary Undersecretary responsible for Māori trade, I have continued this work to position Māori to lead efforts to expand the participation of indigenous people in global trade, including through the promotion of inclusive trade policies, rules and co-operation with our trade partners.
This year, we have achieved a number of significant trade milestones for Māori.
The New Zealand-UK Free Trade Agreement that we will sign in the coming months will include New Zealand’s most advanced set of provisions to recognise and benefit Māori trade interests, including through an Indigenous Chapter, the inclusion of Māori concepts in the FTA’s Environment Chapter (including recognition by both sides of the importance of engaging with Māori in environment conservation), provisions for Māori SMEs and wahine Māori to benefit from the FTA, and of course, tariff reductions on a range of products in sectors with big Māori interests, including honey, horticulture and seafood. This has been achieved in close cooperation with Māori. The hard work of Te Taumata, an independent Māori trade board, led by Chair Chris Insley, deserves particular mention here, with the body doing a lot of hard mahi to shape and inform the positions of our negotiators.
This year, Aotearoa also hosted APEC. By prioritising indigenous issues for APEC’s future, New Zealand was able to secure the APEC Indigenous Peoples Economic and Trade Cooperation Arrangement (which will grow indigenous trade links across the region), reference to indigenous peoples in the Putrajaya Vision Implementation Plan 2040 (meaning APEC will continue to generate momentum for opening more markets for Māori exporters in the years to come) and targeted dialogues on indigenous recovery from COVID-19, indigenous SMEs, indigenous e-commerce, and across other areas of interest to Māori. These were big achievements, given APEC includes many countries nowhere near as advanced as Aotearoa in their indigenous trade kaupapa. It is a legacy from New Zealand’s host year of APEC that we can all be proud of.
Aotearoa’s hosting of the Te Aratini event at Dubai Expo 2020, which Minister Mahuta launched last month, is another major development for the Māori trade agenda this year. Involving indigenous speakers and participants from a range of countries, this was a first for a world Expo, and showcased the untapped potential that indigenous and tribal Peoples offer to solving global issues. It explored with other Expo countries, how to empower the resurgence and regeneration of indigenous economies. I would like to give a special thanks to Carrie Stoddart-Smith for doing an excellent job leading work for this, and I know that you will be hearing from Carrie shortly on the panel after my speech.
And of course, this year has continued to see Māori interests driving our push on a whole host of other trade policy work, including the Inclusive Trade Action Group looking at work to advance indigenous trade, work on the Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability, and across our suite of other FTAs under negotiation or recently concluded, in all of which the Treaty of Waitangi exception will be included – a red line for Aotearoa – which ensures that nothing in the FTAs will prevent the Crown from meeting its obligations to Māori.
Against this backdrop, there has been a notable shift towards more inclusive engagement on the development of New Zealand trade policy, which has resulted in more in-depth and meaningful engagement with Māori. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, or Manatu Aorere, works more closely than ever with groupings such as Te Taumata (which I referred to earlier), the Federation of Māori Authorities, the National Iwi Chairs Forum, and the emerging Ngā Tōki Whakarururanga, to reflect Māori interests in everything they do – from free trade agreements to their work in multilateral fora. The joint work we have done with Te Rangitūkupu on embedding tikanga and kawa into Aotearoa’s APEC hosting year exemplifies a level of partnership we want to sustain and grow in the years to come. Māori have claimed their place at the trade table, and our agenda is richer for it.
Last month, the Waitangi Tribunal issued its report on the final stage of the Wai 2522 inquiry into CPTPP. We have received the Report and will consider it seriously. I would like to acknowledge the substantial work of the Tribunal and claimants over the last 5 years.
While we have come a long way, we still have a long way to go, and there are a number of areas which I would like to see further progress on in the coming years.
We must do more to facilitate wahine Māori into trade. We have been limited by a lack of gender disaggregated data limiting assessment of how trade policies may impact women. My hope is that we can see more Māori women like fashion designer Kiri Nathan and gaming creator Maru Nihoniho, among the likes of Blanche Murray of Kai Ora Honey, Miriana Lowrie of 1Centre and Mel Gollan of RIPA Global, and a whole host of others, burst onto the international stage, and boost the value and mana of Aotearoa’s economy in years to come.
We must also do more to support Māori business’ export capacity and capability, which I know Māori business network Whariki has said is an ongoing constraint. Supporting online channels for export, digital literacy for exporters, and increased marketing and promotional support for non-traditional sectors with growing numbers of Māori businesses (like the creative sector) are just some of the measures that I know agencies are looking at.
And of course, the Government must continue to support Māori businesses – as we are with all Kiwi businesses – as they navigate the new international environment for trade and grapple with the implementation of new COVID-19-related regulations around doing business. Minister O’Connor elaborated on this work in his address yesterday.
This mahi won’t be easy, but conferences like this one help bring new ideas and impetus, and I know will be really valued by officials from Manatu Aorere who are listening in.
I started my speech with a whakataukī, so it’s only fitting I finish with one – he waka eke noa – we’re all in this together. When Māori exporters do well, the New Zealand economy does well. And when indigenous people do well, the world does well. According to Stats NZ, between 2015 and 2020, exports by Māori authorities rose by 55 percent, while exports by all New Zealand businesses only rose 22 percent. The Māori economy is now worth some $68 billion, and is growing. It’s clear that we’re on the right path in setting an inclusive trade policy agenda which lives and breathes the interests of Māori and indigenous trade partners – but I am keen to hear what ideas are discussed in today’s conference on how our policy settings and practices can be even more inclusive, sustainable and fitting for an Aotearoa at the forefront of inclusive trade policies, rules and international cooperation.