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Maori Council steps into the 5G debate with a reminder of who actually owns what

As debate rages around the participation of Huawei in the build of New Zealand’s 5G network, Maori Council Executive Director Matthew Tukaki has told everyone to hit the pause button until it is clear what the role of Maori and Maori organisations will be. Tukaki also reminded people that Maori Council and others had previously moved to protect Maori rights when it came to Spectrum:

“The New Zealand Maori Council sees the building of a new 5G network as an opportunity to bridge the skills divide when it comes to the digital, information technology and telecommunications sector – at the moment we have low rates of participation and we see this as a significant opportunity for growth.” Tukaki said

“When the original spectrum claim came (WAI2224) more than fifteen years ago the Minister of Maori Development at the time indicated strongly that there would be three funding priorities and that TPK would lead administration of a $30 million fund to increase Maori participation in information and communications technology. The question is what has happened since then because not a lot of movement has happened in the digital skills divide.” Tukaki said

“By now I would have thought enough Maori and New Zealanders would have had the skills to openly bid for the 5G network other than relying purely on outside providers to take the lead. But; this is the perennial problem – we have seen no or little movement at the station. So yes, this is a gentle reminder to the Government and to providers who want to bid for the 5G network that Maori Council won’t allow this to slip through to the keeper again.” Tukaki said

“The one thing that we need to consider is whether the original intent around the WAI 2224 claim has been fulfilled by the Government over that more than fifteen years in the three priority areas set out by the Minister of the time:

  1. Improving digital skills and pathways for Māori into digital technologies;

  2. Growing digital technology businesses; and

  3. Enhancing new Māori language and culture initiatives through digital technologies.

I would say no. I would say a lot more work needs to be done given the significant amount of time spent and wasted” Tukaki said.

“In reference to Huawei and China – that’s for the Government to deal with. Our interest remains the protection of the rights of our people and that agencies are meeting their obligations under the Treaty – so far as I can tell no one from the public service managing this process has asked Maori to be involved or engage with us. Maybe that’s just another oversight of a public service needing to be reminded about who the Crowns Treaty partner actually is.” Tukaki said.

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