New Zealand Maori Council welcomes Crown and Maori Spectrum negotiations – creating a digital future


New Zealand Maori Council welcomes Crown and Maori Spectrum negotiations – creating a digital future for Maori

The New Zealand Maori Councils Executive Director, Matthew Tukaki, has called the announcement of Communications Minister, Kris Faafoi, of the Crown and Maori’s agreement on one of the oldest Kaupapa Claims, Spectrum, a great result for Maori. The decisions made also provide an opportunity for Māori interests in radio spectrum. These interests include digital enterprise and jobs, healthcare, rural economy and connectivity, education, broadcasting, and revitalisation of Te Reo. Matthew Tukaki, new Council Chair, Henare Mason, and Councils technical advisor, Brent Reihana, have been heavily involved in the negotiations alongside Iwi Leaders forum, Ngā Kaiwhakapūmau i Te Reo (Wellington Māori Language Board), and Graeme Everton (on behalf of Rangiaho Everton);.

“The spectrum claim is one of the oldest outstanding kaupapa claims that has previously come before the Waitangi Tribunal and of course multiple Governments over the past few decades. Over the last few months the claimant group and the Crown have been working together on a range of fronts. The first are negotiations around the early access scheme for spectrum, the second is on the ongoing work program to move us all forward towards the large allocation of Spectrum on the years ahead and the third is the answering of the perennial question around resource ownership.” Tukaki Said

"This reinforces the strategy of the Council to also focus on plans to move our people from the low wage growth side of the economy to higher wage growth jobs and more - if we can do this then we have a good shot at reducing whanau poverty but also its about giving more opportunity for our people wherever they are." Tukaki said

“In this way a new kaupapa Inquiry partnership has been developed up between Maori and the Crown where everything has been on the table from a discussion about the present and the future, a roadmap ln how to get there and resourcing to ensure we meet our objectives. This resulted in a joint Cabinet paper and more.” Tukaki Said

“In the past, Maori have objected to auctions of spectrum rights because Maori claims have not been resolved. This time, we support an auction of interim rights, as part of our ongoing negotiations, because our agreements with the government create an opportunity for Maori to engage with the digital economy in the lead-up to the main 5G auction that is planned for 2022.” Said

“What we have negotiated, as a Maori Spectrum Working Group, are a series of outcomes that we believe will benefit a great many of our people from research and development to a lift in the numbers of our people entering what is a high growth and high wage side of the economy and from educational and business start-up opportunities.” Tukaki Said

“To achieve these aspirations the Maori Spectrum Working Group is also looking at the most appropriate model for vesting these taonga in an entity that will be governed by and for Maori, administered by and for Maori.” Tukaki Said

“We are also aware that some of our people are concerned with the health implications of things such as 5G and before that 4G and 3G. What everyone needs to be aware of is that Spectrum is a resource that Maori should own and have a stake in much like water and so on. So, to establish a clear path to ownership of a resource must be a key focus. However, we understand the health concerns and that is why we will also be sharing already available research and looking at advocating for additional research.” Tukaki Said

“All of that aside, and at any time, if we believe that the interests and future of our people in this new burgeoning world of a digital economy are not taken into account then of course we will always consider our options – and that message should also be understood by business and industry who themselves want to take advantage of these various platforms.

History of Spectrum and the New Zealand Maori Council

In June 1990, claim Wai 150 was lodged by Sir Graham Latimer on behalf of the New Zealand Maori Council. It sought an urgent interim ruling and recommendation that nothing be done to pursue the spectrum management policy embodied in the Radio Communications Act 1989 until there had been a negotiated resolution of all the issues raised in the claim and that any title to radio spectrum products created by the Act be subject to a caveat which recognized and protected the Maori interest in radio frequencies. The claim sought findings that Maori have rangatiratanga over the allocation of radio frequencies and that, in the absence of an agreement with Maori, the sale of frequency management licences under the Radio Communications Act 1989 would breach the Treaty of Waitangi and be prejudicial to the interests of Maori. In June 1986, the Waitangi Tribunal received the Wai 26 claim that the Treaty of Waitangi was breached by the Crown who failed to await recommendations within the Tribunal’s te reo Māori (1986) report before introducing a bill on the Māori language. This raised dispute as Māori were concerned that the bill might preempt and therefore not fully take in to account the recommendations of the Watangi Tribunal report. The second part of the claim identified that Te reo Māori held taonga status and the (then) Broadcasting Corporation of New Zealand "had not provided adequately for Māori radio listeners and television viewers." when the Crown had an obligation to uphold and promote te reo Māori through electronic mediums.

In June 1990 claim Wai 150 was lodged by Sir Graham Latimer on behalf of the New Zealand Māori Council. The claim was in respect of the Rangatiratanga over the allocation of radio frequencies; the claim being that in the absence of an agreement with the Māori, the sale of frequency management licences under the Radiocommunications Act 1989 would be in breach of the Treaty of Waitangi; denying Māori rights to the radio spectrum would therefore deny an instrumental means of providing te reo Māori to New Zealand. The Waitangi Tribunal amalgamated the Wai 26 with the Wai 150 claim.The final report of the Tribunal recommended that the Crown suspend the radio frequency tender process and proceed to negotiate with the Iwi.

Treaty Claimants

  • Treaty claimants the New Zealand Māori Council, Ngā Kaiwhakapūmau i Te Reo (Wellington Māori Language Board), and Graeme Everton (on behalf of Rangiaho Everton);

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