I welcome this opportunity to join you today, to reflect on the future of how we trade, do business, and connect, and the role that Indigenous and Tribal peoples can play in building new and innovative solutions for the complexities and challenges of the global trade apparatus.
As Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Trade and Export Growth (Māori Trade) I am committed to partnering with Māori and expanding the participation of indigenous people in global trade, alongside New Zealand’s broader COVID19 Trade Recovery Strategy.
In 2019, then Associate Minister for Trade and Export Growth, Nanaia Mahuta (now Foreign Minister), established a programme of work designed to support Māori Trade Opportunities: Aotearoa ki te Ao. Today I would like to share with you more of this work, and reflect on some of the steps New Zealand has taken to build a future where trade delivers for Māori.
The New Zealand Government approach is underpinned by our ‘Trade for All’ agenda, a trade policy that fundamentally recognises the role of Māori and Indigenous in our trade policy. A central plank of Trade for All is continuing to work more closely with our treaty partners to ensure that tirohanga Māori is reflected in our trade policy direction and that the strength of the Māori economy and its trade and investment potential are supported.
For New Zealand, this has shaped how we approach free trade agreements, and what we negotiate towards.
During the UK-NZ FTA negotiations, we commissioned research into Māori interests and trade opportunities to ensure that our negotiators are aware of – and therefore able to pursue – areas of significance to the Māori economy. A range of detailed discussions were held with a number of Māori groups and representatives on their interests in a NZ-UK FTA; which we found included issues such as intellectual property; trade and the environment; digital trade and recognition of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
New Zealand is now pursuing outcomes that reflect, promote and protect Māori interests in the FTA negotiation with the UK.
This FTA will include an indigenous chapter through which New Zealand will seek to establish a framework for cooperation with the UK in ways that can help support further development in the Māori economy, and identify ways to help promote increased international trade engagement by Maori, such as increased participation in international trade missions.
This is both a historic milestone for Māori and the Te Tiriti O Waitangi (the Treaty of Waitangi), a founding document in the history of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Māori have a unique status in Aotearoa New Zealand as the government’s treaty partner. Since 2001 we have included a Treaty of Waitangi clause in all of our Free Trade Agreements to reflect the constitutional significance of the Treaty of Waitangi/Te Tiriti o Waitangi to New Zealand. This is a non-negotiable.
The exception reserves the policy space for the Government to implement domestic policies in relation to Māori in order for the Crown to continue to fulfil its obligations under the Treaty, without being obliged to offer equivalent treatment to persons of other countries that are party to the agreement. The Treaty of Waitangi exception is just one of a number of exceptions and reservations which ensures the Government retains its right to regulate in the public interest.
We understand that expanding the participation of indigenous people in global trade, goes beyond just the interests of Aotearoa New Zealand.
As the host of APEC 2021, we have worked to launch an Indigenous Collaboration Arrangement with willing APEC economies to enable greater trade and economic collaboration activities. Whanaungatanga (relationships) guides our work in APEC to increase connections between Māori and Indigenous Peoples of the Asia-Pacific in the long term.
New Zealand has developed a number of plurilateral initiatives on inclusive trade with like-minded partners. Alongside Canada and Chile, we are members of the Inclusive Trade Action Group (ITAG) which specifically involves work to advance indigenous trade issues.
New Zealand’s trade agenda is also focused on recognising kaupapa (principles) that are culturally important to Māori such as kaitiakitanga or stewardship of the taiao (environment). The Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (the ACCTS) unites a group of small, trade-dependent countries who believe trade measures and disciplines can make a contribution by helping to address the urgent climate crisis we are facing.
I look forward to supporting this work to lift opportunities for Māori – and indigenous peoples throughout the world – and to continue to grow the voice of Māori in the development of Aotearoa New Zealand’s international trade agenda.
I am excited by the conversations that will be shared at Te Aratini, as Indigenous and Tribal peoples bring to the table intergenerational knowledge and trade know how. I am excited by a future where we see more Indigenous exports in global markets, and where Indigenous to Indigenous direct trade flourishes. I am excited because indigenous led trade can be a building block for strong communities, sustainable environments and thriving cultural spaces.