21 Jun 2012

Maori should be at trade talks table - Sharples

8:51 am on 21 June 2012

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples says there should be a Maori representative at all of New Zealand's international trade talks involving countries with indigenous people.

Dr Sharples made the comment at a Maori Affairs Committee meeting on Wednesday.

Dr Sharples was recently in China on a trade mission with representatives from three Maori owned fishing companies, Aotearoa Fisheries, Ngai Tahu Fisheries and Ngati Kahungunu.

Maori control 37% of New Zealand's total fish quota which is valued at a total of $4.5 billion.

Dr Sharples says China is a country built on an ancient culture and shares many parallels with Maori, and it's clear there's a potential for trade relations to be even stronger than they are now.

He says the unique tikanga in their presentation resonated with Chinese officials, and he likens the response to being literally given keys to the country.