The Māori Affairs Select Committee was briefed on Wednesday morning about how the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will affect Māori.
The TPP is a free trade agreement between 12 Pacific Rim countries and was signed in Auckland on February 4 and is due to come into force in three years.
Both the Labour and the Māori parties had concerns about how Treaty of Waitangi rights will be affected under the pact and what guarantees were in place to protect native fauna and flora.
TPP chief negotiator David Walker told the committee there were provisions in place to ensure the Government consults with iwi.
“The Treaty of Waitangi exception in the TPP is designed to allow the Crown to have the on-going process of engagement with Māori in New Zealand.”
But one concern Hauraki-Waikato MP Nanaia Mahuta had was about a 15 year old Treaty clause that was added to the TPP.
“It doesn’t sound right that you can just transfer a Treaty clause that was developed in a 2001 context and say it’s just as relevant in 2016.
“Because, as I say, the Treaty discourse has evolved since then,” Ms Mahuta said.
Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis told Mr Walker that the Iwi Chairs Forum didn’t agree with the Treaty clause, but Mr Walker said the Treaty clause was developed in partnership with the Iwi Chairs to protect Treaty rights.
“The whole purpose from the Government’s perspective in having this provision in the TPP or any of our other Free Trade Agreements is so that other governments cannot interfere in this process,” said Mr Walker.
But Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox wasn’t convinced.
“We don’t agree with that because if a problem arises first of all that issue could be taken to an overseas court and out of New Zealand’s jurisdiction.
“Secondly, if any issues come up then it’s the Government that determines whether the Treaty clause has been breached,” Ms Fox said.
She added that the Government hasn’t even addressed the WAI262 report that deals with native fauna and flora which will be another issue that could be impacted by the Trans-Pacific Partnership.