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NZ–UK FTA Agreement in Principle: What’s in it for Māori?

On 20 October 2021, New Zealand and the United Kingdom reached Agreement in Principle. This agreement includes New Zealand’s most advanced set of provisions to recognise and benefit Māori economic and trade interests – as befits the unique circumstances of the British Crown as an original signatory to the Treaty of Waitangi.

New Zealand’s negotiators have worked closely with Māori throughout the negotiation of the NZ-UK FTA to ensure that Māori interests shaped and informed the positions that we have taken into the negotiation.   Māori have said that this Agreement held particular significance in the context of their unique relationship with the UK through Te Tiriti o Waitangi.  Māori have fought hard throughout this negotiation to leave the United Kingdom in no doubt about the priority that New Zealand places on reflecting Māori interests in the final deal.  The Agreement in Principle is a testament to those efforts.

The Agreement in Principle includes critical elements that the UK and New Zealand have agreed will be included in the final deal.  The final FTA will be concluded in the coming months.

Thanks to some hard mahi and strong collaboration between government officials and our partners representing Māori, the NZ-UK FTA will contain some strong outcomes for Māori.  These include the prioritisation of early tariff elimination on a range of products, like honey, horticultural goods and seafood; the inclusion of Māori concepts in the FTA’s Environment Chapter, and the inclusion of an Indigenous Chapter in the UK FTA – only the second FTA that New Zealand has negotiated that includes a specific chapter on Māori interests, and a strong signal of the importance of Māori interests to New Zealand.

The focus on Māori interests in this FTA delivers on the Government’s promise that the benefits of trade should be shared by all New Zealanders, and marks a new era of collaboration supporting Māori to succeed internationally. 

Our particular thanks to Te Taumata, the Federation of Māori Authorities, the National Iwi Chairs Forum, and the Ngā Tōki Whakarururanga Establishment Group, as well as to Māori who have participated in the many public hui and research initiatives that have been held over the course of this negotiation.

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

Te Tiriti o Waitangi / Treaty of Waitangi

As with all of the FTAs that New Zealand has concluded since 2001, the UK-NZ FTA includes a Treaty of Waitangi exception clause.  This unique and important exception protects the Government’s ability to adopt policies that fulfil its obligations to Māori, including under 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, as well as intellectual property issues (such as mātauranga Māori, Māori traditional knowledge and cultural expressions), environment and digital trade.

In particular, this work highlighted the very substantial interests at play for Māori in a full and complete opening of market access for New Zealand’s primary sector exports.

Specific elements of the Agreement in Principle (AIP)

Chapter on Indigenous Cooperation

The Agreement will incorporate a dedicated chapter on indigenous cooperation. The aim of this chapter is to strengthen and support the benefits of the Agreement for Māori and to recognise the special significance of this Agreement for Māori, given the UK’s status as one of the original signatories to Te Tiriti o Waitangi/the Treaty of Waitangi.

Intellectual Property

For New Zealand, the recognition of the Crown’s Tiriti obligations has been a central consideration. New Zealand retains flexibility to respond to Tiriti obligations like those coming out of Wai 262. 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.

Environment

The NZ-UK FTA will contain the most ambitious Trade and Environment chapter New Zealand has ever negotiated, including commitments to prohibit subsidies for fishing overfished stocks, provisions to take steps to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, an article promoting sustainable agriculture, and the most comprehensive environmental goods list to date.

For the first time ever in an Environment chapter, both sides will also acknowledge the perspective of Māori on the environment and will include Māori concepts such as kaitiakitanga and whakapapa.

Read more about the outcomes of the Agreement in Principle.

Engagement with Māori

Māori have been encouraged and supported to engage and participate throughout the negotiation process including through workshops and webinars, interviews and independent research, outreach via Te Puni Kōkiri’s regional offices, meetings with business and Iwi leaders, and regional Hui led by Te Taumata.

There has been a strong emphasis on building inclusive, transparent and ongoing dialogue with Māori on the potential benefits, opportunities and limitations of this and other trade agreements. This was to create enduring pathways for engagement that target specific Māori trade issues and interests. Engagement with Māori began before negotiations had commenced. Since then the Ministry has had more than 45 separate engagement activities across Māoridom on the NZ-UK FTA.

Key forums of engagement:

Te Taumata

Te Taumata(external link) is a group of recognised leaders in Māori socio-economic and cultural development areas with significant networks across Māoridom. On 24 September 2019, MFAT signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Te Taumata to deepen MFAT’s engagement with Māori on trade policy and Māori priorities within trade. The MOU complements MFAT’s existing structured engagement with Māori and reflects our shared motivation to uphold Te Tiriti/Treaty principles of partnership.

Te Taumata(external link) has held a number regional hui on trade in Rotorua, Wakatū, Gisborne and Kerikeri. These hui covered a range of trade and business topics.  MFAT and other government agencies attend to provide support and to hear feedback directly from Maori on their trade interests. These hui serve as an opportunity for officials from across Government and Ministers to engage with iwi Māori in the regions. If you’d like to learn more, you can read MFAT’s MOU with Te Taumata below.

Chief Negotiator Webinars

The NZ-UK FTA team held regular webinars with our Chief Negotiators to provide updates on how our negotiation rounds were tracking and answer any questions the public may have, including how trade issues of importance are being addressed.

If you would like to receive invitations to future NZ-UK FTA webinars, please email us at UKFTA@mfat.govt.nz 

  • The Trade for All Agenda and Advisory Board Report, ongoing MFAT Taumata hui, and the Wai262 and Wai2522 Waitangi Tribunal enquiries.
  • Further research and analysis with key agencies aimed at providing concrete data to inform trade negotiations. This research fed into the trade negotiation process to ensure that negotiated outcomes created material benefits for Māori, women, SMEs and other groups. Te Taumata has also undertaken an independent research study(external link) on Māori interests in a NZ-UK FTA, and discussions to progress this are currently under way.
  • A coordinated framework developed between New Zealand and the UK, to understand how best to analyse and evaluate the inclusive trade outcomes of the NZ-UK FTA, including for Māori, in a similar way to the work now being undertaken within the Inclusive Trade Action Group with Canada and Chile.

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