Māori interests

An upgrade of our existing free trade agreement with China provides opportunities for Māori exporters and businesses while protecting the rights of Māori.

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Opportunities for Māori exporters and businesses

Māori businesses, iwi, hapū and whānau that benefit from the upgrade include those with interests in the forestry, fisheries and food & beverage sectors. Tariff elimination commitments on New Zealand wood and paper exports to China are expected to result in further duty savings to Māori exporters. Enhanced trade facilitation measures, including new self-declaration of origin commitments, streamlined clearance for perishable goods like seafood, and contact points for New Zealand exporters at key ports in China are all designed to reduce the cost of trade, save time and money, to the benefit of businesses engaged in trade with China.

The Māori economy has an asset base estimated to be worth around $50 billion, contributing significantly to the growth of the national economy. To date Māori economic growth has centred on four main sectors: agri-sector (forestry and fishing), tourism, property and construction and infrastructure, and technology and innovation.

These sectors are critical to the New Zealand economy and to export growth in particular. Māori own 50% of New Zealand’s fishing quota and approximately 30% of plantation forests. Collectively, Māori control around 30% of lamb production, 10% of milk production, 10% of kiwifruit production and 30% of sheep and beef production.

Key areas for future investment include: optimising existing assets to bring them into full production, ‘downstream activities’ including food processing assets and tourism facilities, infrastructure, and investing in technology and innovation to add greater value.

Read more in ‘The Māori Economy Investor Guide’ (2017) released by The Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

Protecting Māori interests

Recognising Te Tiriti o Waitangi

The government’s right to regulate for legitimate public policy purposes continues to be protected, as is our exception for the Treaty of Waitangi which enables the government to take any measures it considers necessary to fulfil its obligations to Māori.


The upgraded free trade agreement’s enhanced focus on the environment and the introduction of a new Environment and Trade Chapter has been both welcomed and described as aligning with Māori concern for the environment by Te Taumata(external link) (a key partner for dialogue with the New Zealand Government on trade-related issues).

Traditional knowledge

Our existing free trade agreement contains safeguards to ensure there are no adverse effects on New Zealand cultural values, including Māori interests. The upgrade to the free trade agreement does not change the right of both New Zealand and China to establish measures to protect genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore consistent with international obligations.

Engagement with Māori 

Government decisions on the upgrade to the free trade agreements are and will continue to be informed by Māori concerns and interests as the Crown’s Treaty partner.

Read more about MFAT's consultation with Māori


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