2 Feb 2022

Māori interests in the radio spectrum: 'Start of a new era'

3:06 pm on 2 February 2022

A historic agreement recognising Māori interests in the radio spectrum has been signed at Parliament today.

The agreement, designed in partnership with the Māori Spectrum Working Group, is an opportunity to build Māori capability in spectrum-related industries and see Māori participating more prominently in this growing sector.

no caption

Photo: 123 RF

Digital Economy and Communications Minister David Clark said the agreement was exciting.

"It recognises the critical role Māori are able to bring to the telecommunications sector," Clark said.

To carry out the commitments in this agreement, a permanent Māori Spectrum entity will be established further information will be made available later this year.

"Supported by funding and long-term access to spectrum, the Māori Spectrum entity will work with the government on spectrum policy decisions whilst advocating for Māori interests in radio spectrum. This includes digital enterprise and jobs, healthcare, rural economy and connectivity, education, broadcasting, and revitalisation of te reo Māori," Clark said.

The details of the agreement signed today include an ongoing allocation of national spectrum and a role for Māori in spectrum policy making.

Māori Spectrum Working Group acting convenor Piripi Walker said this was an agreement over longstanding claims Māori had had about the radio spectrum and frequencies.

"Waitangi Tribunal has found in favour of these claims in the past, but the discussions and negotiations have been difficult and the Crown has not accepted the Waitangi Tribunal central finding. However, in the last three years the Crown returned to the table with a willingness to reach and enduring agreement over frequencies and the radio spectrum, and today is the fruit of those negotiations," Walker said.

Walker said it would benefit all of Aotearoa.

"It will give access to training, skills, jobs and innovation in the sector. It will also mark a start of a new era in Māori participating in telecommunications."

Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson said today's announcement was a fantastic opportunity not just for Māori but the whole of Aotearoa.

"This is a great stepping-stone for Māori and the Crown to reach an enduring agreement which recognises Māori interests in this kaupapa. I am delighted we are moving forward on this, and with an inclusive approach, to create greater opportunity for all New Zealanders," Jackson said.

"I would like to acknowledge the work and leadership of the Māori Spectrum Working Group in developing this partnership with the Crown and engaging

with Māori to ensure a broad range of Māori interests were represented in discussions," Clark said.

The Māori Spectrum Working Group was established by Māori in 2019 to lead this work with the government.

In 2020 a short-term allocation of spectrum for 5G services was made to Māori, which acted as a stepping-stone to reach the enduring agreement announced today.

More information about the process to develop this agreement, and the full agreement details, will be available on MBIE's website in due course.