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Source: New Zealand Government

I would like to begin by acknowledging a few people here today.  Firstly, Chris Karamea Insley for his hard work and commitment to the vision of Te Taumata. I’d also like to acknowledge Minister Nanaia Mahuta, New Zealand’s first Maori wahine Minister of Foreign Affairs, whom you have just heard from. 

Also a special acknowledgement to South African High Commissioner Her Excellency Ms Vuyiswa Tulelo whom we are hearing from later this morning.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. It has been an exceptionally challenging year. We are all having to adapt and adjust. The Government’s trade recovery strategy has worked to support businesses in these times, protecting our supply chains and flow of goods across the world.  And as we continue to navigate COVID-19, and what comes next, we are mindful that we were already navigating choppy waters.

It is not getting any easier to be a small country. Global competition is intensifying, the international rules-based system is under pressure, and protectionism is on the rise – all at a time when the need for coordinated global action on issues such as climate change has never been greater. Now more than ever, New Zealand’s commitment to multilateralism and to broadening the diversity of our relationships is essential to build resilience as we undertake our recovery from COVID-19.

The Māori economy has, and continues to adjust to these winds of change and we as the Government continue to work hard to ensure that there are opportunities through international trade that match the significant aspiration and potential that exists in the Māori economy.  The Māori economy is estimated to be over $50 billion, and many iwi, hapū, and whānau are already involved in trade, or on the path to getting involved. Collectively, Māori own 50% of New Zealand’s fishing quota, 40% of forestry land, 30% of the sheep and beef sector, 10% of dairy production and 10% of our kiwifruit orchards.

Looking across the economy, across regions, and across sectors the impact of this shock has not been evenly felt. Some Māori primary sector businesses are having excellent years, while others that export different products, and those in the tourism sector have been dealt heavy blows.

The Māori Economic Resilience Strategy (MERS)

COVID-19 will have unique economic impacts for Māori. There are very real risks that entrenched and intergenerational inequities will worsen as a result of COVID‑19.  Employment data is already showing a disproportionate impact on Māori, which will flow on to education, housing, and wider wellbeing impacts.

Te Puni Kōkiri has developed the Māori Economic Resilience Strategy (MERS) to help reposition Aotearoa for recovery from COVID-19, and to improve the resilience of Māori against future economic shocks. Resilience is the ability of whānau and households to absorb, bounce back from, or adapt to disruption without compromising their long-term wellbeing.  If wellbeing is our quality of life, then resilience is how secure that quality of life is. 

The Māori Economic Resilience Strategy work programme has three primary workstreams:

  • Developing the data, analytics and qualitative evidence approach that will ensure the public sector properly identifies and effectively responds to the right issues for Māori recovery and resilience.
  • Working with other agencies on priority policy and programme design. that will deliver the required impact for Māori
  • Monitoring a set of indicators to track Māori Economic Resilience.

Supporting Māori business to succeed Internationally

In 2019, then Associate Minister for Trade and Export Growth, Nanaia Mahuta (who you just heard from in her new role as Foreign Minister), established a programme of work designed to support Māori Trade Opportunities: Aotearoa ki te Ao.  Its four strategic pou (pillars) are designed to ensure trade policy helps Māori succeed internationally. The Minister has asked me to continue this work to help to position Māori to lead international efforts to expand the participation of indigenous people in global trade, including through the expansion of inclusive trade policies, rules and co-operation with our trade partners.

New Zealand has worked to develop a number of plurilateral initiatives on inclusive trade with like-minded partners to take these goals forward. Alongside Canada and Chile, we are members of the Inclusive Trade Action Group (ITAG) which specifically involves work to advance indigenous trade issues. Last year our three countries concluded the Global Trade and Gender Arrangement, which further promotes women’s economic empowerment, including (that of) mana wahine – a term which speaks to the unique power and spiritual essence of women. We also concluded the Australia and Aotearoa-New Zealand Indigenous Collaboration Arrangement, which seeks to promote broad cooperation on issues related to indigenous peoples and includes – but goes beyond – trade and economic matters.

Connections to global markets for products and services are essential for Māori trade success, and pursuing an ambitious agenda of free trade agreements is a priority for New Zealand. Our goal is that these free trade agreements provide opportunities for Māori, and reflect the special relationship between Māori and the Crown. In order to do this, we are enhancing our research into Māori trade opportunities, to ensure that our negotiators are aware of – and therefore able to pursue – those things that matter most to the Māori economy. Furthermore, New Zealand’s free trade agreements contain a Treaty of Waitangi exception clause which, combined with other provisions, protects the government’s ability to adopt policies that fulfil its obligations to Māori, including under the Treaty of Waitangi.

Alongside our critical commercial interests, New Zealand’s trade agenda is also focused on recognising kaupapa (principles or ideals) that are culturally important to Māori.  The Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (the ACCTS) unites a group of small, trade-dependent countries who believe trade measures and disciplines can make a contribution by helping to address the urgent climate crisis we are facing.   We have just undertaken the third round of ACCTS negotiations, which continue despite the inability of our teams to meet in person.

All of the extensive work that I have described to advance Māori interests in international trade, economic and values issues is underpinned by our Government’s ‘Trade for All’ agenda. Trade for All is about ensuring trade policy recognises and respects those things that are important to New Zealanders and that shares the benefits of trade more widely. 

It is also a trade policy that fundamentally recognises the role of Māori in our trade policy. A central plank of Trade for All is continuing to work more closely with our treaty partners to ensure that Te Ao Māori, Tikanga Māori, and Matauranga Māori are reflected in our trade policy direction; that the strength of the Māori economy and its trade and investment potential are supported, and that trade delivers for Māori.  Trade for All has prioritised enhancing the Crown’s engagement with Māori.

In 2020, following the recommendations of the Trade for All Board, we significantly expanded the pace and nature of our engagement on trade with the public.  A comprehensive plan to engage with Māori on our current FTA negotiations with the UK was launched last year – complementing existing strategies developed when we began FTA negotiations with the EU in 2018 – and involving multiple Government agencies. A range of detailed discussions were held with a number of Māori groups and representatives on their interests in a NZ-UK FTA, including on issues such as intellectual property and trade and the environment, and several webinars relevant to a Māori audience were hosted by trade negotiators .

Trade for All underpins the development of new initiatives and policies and the communication of those to the public, including, mostly recently, the Trade Recovery Strategy.

Launched in June 2020, the Trade Recovery Strategy helps put New Zealand in the best possible position to recover from the impacts of the global pandemic and to seize new opportunities for exports and investment.  The strategy has three pillars; retooling support for exporters; reinvigorating international trade architecture; and refreshing key trade relationships. 2021 will be a year of implementation for Trade for All, based on the recommendations to Government contained in the Trade for All Advisory Board’s report. 

These are no doubt challenging times. The global health and economic consequences of COVID-19 will be with us for some time yet and New Zealand will not be immune. As a trading nation we rely on international customers to purchase our goods and services. This Government is committed to partnering with Māori in a manner which positions New Zealand globally as an attractive place to trade with and invest in, and supports the trade aspirations of Māori across the economy.

I look forward to supporting this work to lift opportunities for Māori – and indigenous peoples throughout the world – and to continue to grow the voice of Māori in the development of Aotearoa New Zealand’s international trade agenda

MIL OSI