Māori interests

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Treaty of Waitangi

As in all of New Zealand’s free trade agreements since 2001, the NZ-EU FTA contains a clause that preserves the unique status of Te Tiriti o Waitangi (Treaty of Waitangi), ensuring the Government’s ability to meet its obligations to Māori. The Te Tiriti o Waitangi exception protects the New Zealand Government’s ability to adopt policies it considers necessary to fulfil its obligations to Māori.

Māori Trade and Cooperation – a new modality for New Zealand-EU engagement

New Zealand and the European Union agreed a “Māori Trade and Cooperation” chapter in the FTA that will provide a valuable new platform to advance Māori economic aspirations in the EU.  

The chapter acknowledges Te Tiriti/The Treaty as a foundational document of constitutional importance to Aotearoa New Zealand, and references Māori concepts including Te Ao Māori, Mātauranga Māori, Tikanga Māori, Kaupapa Māori, Tāonga and Wāhine Māori to achieve wellbeing.

It provides a definition for ‘mānuka’ as the Māori word used exclusively for the Leptospermum scoparium tree grown in Aotearoa New Zealand and derivative products such as honey and oil. It describes ‘mānuka’ as culturally important to Māori as a tāonga and traditional medicine.

The cooperation areas in the chapter include collaborating to enhance the ability for Māori enterprises to benefit from the Agreement’s trade and investment opportunities, strengthen links between EU and Māori enterprises (with a particular emphasis on SMEs), supporting science, research and innovation links, and cooperating on geographical indications.

Māori exporters and businesses

Protecting and promoting Māori interests in this FTA is a priority for New Zealand, reflecting New Zealand’s Trade for All agenda and commitments under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The FTA includes outcomes in each of these areas:

  • Trade in goods – There are significant outcomes in this FTA for Māori exporters in a range of sectors including kiwifruit and other horticultural products, meat, dairy, fish and seafood, wine and honey. 97% of New Zealand’s current goods trade will enter the EU tariff-free under the FTA, with 91% from day one (including kiwifruit, apples, wine, fish and seafood products, forestry products and Mānuka honey). New Zealand has increased beef, butter, cheese and milk powder quota access into the EU.
  • Digital, services and investment – The FTA includes new cross-cutting language that is aligned with the Te Tiriti o Waitangi exception, which makes it clear that New Zealand has reserved the right to adopt or maintain measures to protect Māori rights, interests and duties, and responsibilities.
  • Sustainable food systems – The sustainable food systems chapter includes cooperation on “Indigenous knowledge, participation, and leadership in food systems”. This reflects the value that Aotearoa New Zealand places on traditional knowledge and approaches, and the vital role that Indigenous peoples can play in achieving sustainable food systems globally.
  • Trade and sustainable development – This chapter includes strong new commitments on climate action, including the Paris Agreement, and on labour rights and gender equality including making these commitments enforceable in the FTA. The FTA has disciplines on fisheries subsidies and commitments to work together on fossil fuel subsidy reform, the most ambitious FTA outcome in these areas by the EU. There’s strong commitments on trade and gender equality, including a specific cooperative focus on wahine Māori.

Engagement with Māori

Throughout the FTA negotiations, officials engaged with Māori to ensure that interests and priorities were understood and advocated for in the FTA negotiations. This included regular engagement with Te Taumata, Ngā Toki Whakaruruanga, National Iwi Chairs Forum and the Federation of Māori Authorities, as well as through a range of broad public engagements, updates and opportunities for comment.

This improved engagement lead to new practices such as sharing and engaging on live negotiating texts.

We will continue to engage with Māori representatives throughout the implementation process to ensure that Māori interests are promoted and protected.

The FTA includes new mechanisms for public consultation and engagement on matters related to the implementation of the agreement, including the creation of a Domestic Advisory Group and a Civil Society Forum. Both of these mechanisms provide specifically for Māori representation.

Reports on Māori interests in the EU

In 2019, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade together with Te Puni Kōkiri commissioned BERL to put together a report on Māori interests in the NZ-EU FTA in order to better understand the priorities and challenges for Māori exporters in accessing the EU market.

The report highlighted the value of the EU market to Māori businesses but noted the need for greater support to help SMEs. Māori interest in intellectual property protections and treatment for taonga works, taonga species, and matauranga Māori also featured prominently.

After the conclusion of the NZ-EU FTA, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade commissioned ACE Consulting to prepare an independent report analysing the FTA’s key outcomes with respect to Māori. A copy of that report is here: Ūropi Tauhokohoko Ka Taea New Zealand – European Union Free Trade Agreement: An Independent Assessment of the Impacts for Māori’ [PDF, 3.8 MB]. The report modelled $110 million in benefits for the Māori economy arising from the NZ-EU FTA. It also found improvements in process and outcomes for Māori in the NZ-EU FTA, while noting, for some, issues remained around protection for mātauranga Māori, Treaty rights and interests, and cultural and intellectual property of Māori.

Te Taumata prepared separate analysis on the NZ-EU FTA entitled ‘EU FTA Analysis – An assessment of what the EU FTA delivers, or could deliver, for Māori’(external link).  

Ngā Toki Whakarururanga also prepared a separate report on the NZ-EU FTA entitled Te Tiriti O Waitangi Assessment –New Zealand European Union Free Trade Agreement’(external link).  

Get in contact

If you have any questions about upcoming Māori consultation or Māori interests in relation to New Zealand trade policy, you can contact us at FTA_Outreach@mfat.govt.nz


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