19 Aug 2015

TPP opponents head back to Waitangi Tribunal

10:27 am on 19 August 2015

Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) opponents are set to go back to the Waitangi Tribunal to ask it to consider what the Crown needs to do to meet its Treaty obligations to Māori during trade negotiations.

Wellington's protesters chant, clap and jeer on the steps of Parliament as guest speakers address the crowd

Protests against the TPP were held throughout New Zealand over the past weekend. Photo: RNZ

Earlier this month the Tribunal rejected a bid by claimants to hold an urgent hearing on the TPP deal.

Claimant lawyer Kathy Ertel said she now hopes to return to the Waitangi Tribunal this week to seek a hearing on the Crown's responsibilities as a Treaty partner.

"I think the process of what the Crown needs to do to discharge its Treaty obligations before it negotiates a text is something the tribunal may be interested in looking at and that's what we are asking them to do."

Ms Ertel said the claimants will also ask the tribunal to consider what input Māori should have had into the TPP negotiations and its final text.

Moana Jackson, one of the claimants, said the Crown had obligations to consult with its Māori Treaty partner, and ensure that Māori views were taken into account.

"Clearly in the process of negotiating the TPPA the Crown has singularly failed to meet those obligations. Conducting negotiations in secret is in my view itself inconsistent with the Treaty."

Ms Jackson said the Crown needed to find some way in which it could fulfil its obligations in relation to Maori, otherwise it was subordinating the Treaty relationship to narrow commercial interests.

"You don't just jettison the Treaty because it might be inconvenient to honour what the obligations are."

Ms Ertel said if a TPP deal is struck soon the tribunal will proceed with a hearing on the final text of the agreement.

She said she hopes negotiations on any future deals will be undertaken in a more transparent way that complies with the Treaty.

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