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Maori should support TPP: Key

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 5/05/2016

Maori should support the Trans-Pacific Partnership now the Waitangi Tribunal has decided their rights are protected under the agreement, Prime Minister John Key says.

The tribunal heard claims that the 12-nation free trade agreement could undermine Maori rights but in a report released on Thursday it dismissed those concerns.

It decided clauses within the agreement provided "a reasonable degree of protection".

Mr Key says the government has been pointing that out all along.

"The points we were making have been fully vindicated by the Waitangi Tribunal," he said.

"I think Maori should now embrace TPP because what it means is the Maori economy, which is heavily based in the rural communities, is going to benefit enormously."

Trade Minister Todd McClay has welcomed the report, saying it reflects the way the Treaty has been recognised in the agreement.

"Maori have much to gain," he said.

"Maori businesses are big exporters and have significant ownership in key sectors such as forestry, fishing, red meat and dairy."

Inclusion of specific Treaty of Waitangi clauses in the TPP text was "to the credit of successive New Zealand governments", the tribunal said in its report.

However, it did have some concerns, particularly surrounding the right of overseas investors to bring claims against the New Zealand government.

While it did not agree with claimants that too much power was being given to foreigners, it did say it could have a chilling effect on the Crown's willingness or ability to meet its Waitangi obligations.

Further discussions between Maori and Crown were suggested.

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