22 Oct 2018

Trade agreements not reflecting NZ values: academic

7:01 am on 22 October 2018

New Zealand needs to adopt a more inclusive trade strategy rather than serving "privileged commerical interests", a University of Auckland professor has said.

No caption

Professor Jane Kelse Photo: RNZ

The comments were made at an event hosted by the University of Auckland which looked at trade in relation to climate change, workers rights, and Māori.

One of the event's organisers, professor Jane Kelsey, said the time was right for our trading agreements to reflect the objectives we had as a society.

"At present they are quite out of sync, they exist largely to [serve] privileged commercial interests and are driven especially by the negotiating agendas of other countries and people and communities feel disempowered and disengaged from that process," she said.

Professor Kelsey said for Māori, values and treaty relationships needed to underpin how governments went about entering into those kinds of agreements.

"Also the importance of direct relations between indigenous people internationally and that priorities such as kaitiaki responsibilities or caretaker responsibilities for the environment and for people's well-being to be centre and not ignored."

She said these debates were happening globally and some governments were deciding the old model was broken.

"There is a real momentum internationally and there is a risk that momentum for change may go through an authoritarian approach that doesn't reflect the kind of values they want.

"The challenge we have is to make sure that the change is genuinely progressive."

She said the livestream of the event and discussions had over 13,000 page views, showing there was a high level of interest in the subject.