Māori interests

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Māori woman and man read paperwork .

On 28 February 2022 (1 March NZT), New Zealand and the United Kingdom signed the NZ-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA). This Agreement contains the broadest set of outcomes for Māori that New Zealand has negotiated in a FTA – recognising the importance that Māori placed on this Agreement, including through the unique relationship with the British Crown as an original signatory to te Tiriti o Waitangi/the Treaty of Waitangi.

New Zealand negotiators worked closely with Māori throughout the negotiations to ensure that Māori interests and priorities were reflected in the overall deal.

Key outcomes of the NZ-UK FTA were agreed in principle in October 2021.

The NZ-UK FTA contains specific outcomes for Māori. These include: a Māori Trade and Economic Cooperation Chapter – the second FTA that New Zealand has negotiated to date with a specific chapter on Māori interests; prioritisation of early tariff elimination on a range of products of interest to Māori such as honey, horticultural goods and seafood; Māori perspectives and concepts in the Environment chapter; and other areas across the Agreement aimed at enhancing Māori participation in trade and investment opportunities, including chapters on: General Exceptions (the Treaty of Waitangi exception clause), Government Procurement, Digital Trade, Intellectual Property, Trade and Gender Equality, and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises.

These outcomes deliver on the Government’s Trade for All agenda, supporting sustainable and inclusive economic development.

Nau te rourou, naku te rourou, ka ora ai te iwi.

The Treaty of Waitangi Exception Clause

As with all FTAs that New Zealand has concluded since 2001, the NZ-UK FTA includes New Zealand’s Treaty of Waitangi exception clause, which enables the Government to adopt policies that fulfil its obligations to Māori, including under te Tiriti o Waitangi/the Treaty of Waitangi.

Māori economic interests in the UK-NZ FTA

Engagement with Māori, together with independent studies on Māori interests in the NZ-UK FTA, identified a broad range of interests across the agreement, including in goods market access – particularly primary sector exports including honey, horticulture, meat, dairy, wine;  intellectual property issues (such as mātauranga Māori, Māori traditional knowledge and cultural expressions); environment; and digital trade.

This engagement highlighted the substantial interests of Māori in the full and complete opening of market access for New Zealand’s primary sector exports to the UK.

Specific elements of the Agreement

Goods Market Access

The NZ-UK FTA will eliminate tariffs on all New Zealand exports to the UK, with 99.5% of New Zealand’s current trade entering the UK duty free when the FTA enters into force, and the remaining tariffs eliminated over 3-7 years. All tariffs will be eliminated once the FTA is fully implemented.

The concentration of significant Māori assets in the primary sector, as well as substantial Māori employment (estimated at approximately 50,000 jobs), means the FTA’s goods market access outcomes are particularly important.

An independent report prepared for Te Taumata by Sense Partners Ltd at the conclusion of the NZ-UK FTA Agreement in Principle in October 2021 estimated that tariff and quota-free trade for New Zealand primary sector exports to the UK had the potential to deliver around 400 additional jobs for Māori.

Māori Trade and Economic Cooperation chapter

The Agreement contains a dedicated Māori Trade and Economic Cooperation chapter, recognising strong Māori interests in participating in and shaping trade approaches and outcomes that affect them. It also reflects the special relationship between Māori and the British Crown as original signatories to te Tiriti o Waitangi/the Treaty of Waitangi, and the unique context arising from this.

The chapter is focused on promoting cooperation between the Parties to the NZ-UK FTA to enable and advance Māori economic and wellbeing aspirations, for example through cooperation to enhance the ability of Māori-owned enterprises to access and benefit from the trade and investment opportunities created under the FTA.

In one specific case – the Haka Ka Mate – the chapter also contains an acknowledgement of the significance of this haka to Ngāti Toa Rangatira and an agreement to work together to identify appropriate ways to recognise and protect the Haka Ka Mate. In addition, New Zealand and the United Kingdom each acknowledged Ngāti Toa Rangatira’s guardianship of the Haka Ka Mate in a separate side instrument.

Intellectual Property

For New Zealand, recognising and giving effect to the Crown’s Tiriti/Treaty obligations was a central consideration. New Zealand retains flexibility to respond to obligations like those in the Wai 262 Report. The Parties also agree to cooperate at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Intergovernmental Committee on Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) to work towards a multilateral outcome.


The NZ-UK FTA contains the most far-reaching Environment chapter New Zealand has ever negotiated. The chapter includes commitments to prohibit subsidies that increase fishing capacity, and to take steps to eliminate harmful fossil fuel subsidies. It prioritises tariff elimination on 293 environmentally beneficial products – the largest such list agreed in any FTA to date. It also underlines the urgent need to address climate change, and commits to working together to do so.   

The Environment chapter, for the first time in any FTA, acknowledges the important role that sustainable Māori environmental approaches (including references to concepts such as kaitiakitanga and mauri) can play in areas such as fisheries, forestry and agriculture.

Read more about the outcomes and benefits of the FTA here.

Engagement with Māori

There was comprehensive engagement with Māori throughout the negotiation process on interests they wished to see in the Agreement. This included regular meetings with Treaty Partner representative groups (Ngā Toki Whakarururanga, Te Taumata, Federation of Māori Authorities and the National Iwi Chairs Forum); in-depth discussions with sectoral leaders; independent studies; a number of public hui, and targeted communications and online discussions with Māori. This engagement informed and shaped the Māori Trade and Economic Cooperation chapter, as well as provisions in a range of other Māori interest areas in the FTA, including the Intellectual Property chapter, the Environment chapter and the Trade and Gender Equality chapter.


Ace Consulting reports on Māori interests in the NZ-UK FTA

  • Dr Jason Mika led independent research into Māori perspectives on the NZ-UK FTA. Researchers interviewed 50 Māori enterprises that included Māori entrepreneurs, Māori managers, and Māori businesspeople from small and medium enterprises (SMEs), post-settlement governance entities (PSGEs), Māori corporates, and Māori health and social service providers.
  • Findings were provided throughout the FTA negotiations in the form of batch reports. The full research report was completed in July 2021.

To get in touch on any issues in relation to the NZ-UK FTA, please email us at UKFTA@mfat.govt.nz.


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