Kingi Taurua, a prominent Nga Puhi elder at Waitangi’s Te Tii Marae, has sent a formal notice of veto of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement to the embassies and trade departments of its proposed partner countries, and has requested that the Queen intervene on the issue.
The document cites the Treaty of Waitangi and the 1835 Declaration of Independence of New Zealand, and states that the New Zealand government does not have “due authority” to sign the TPPA without the agreement of Maori elders, “which [agreement] has not been given”.
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Mr Taurua claims that the TPPA would be void in respect of New Zealand’s involvement as a result, should it be signed.
NZ Food Security has obtained a copy of the document sent by Mr Taurua, which is titled “Notice of Non-Assent to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and Exercise of Constitutional Power of Veto in Respect Thereof”.
The public release of the document comes just as the TPPA is due to be signed in Auckland, New Zealand on February 4 by visiting politicians from countries around the Pacific.
Mr Taurua is currently meeting with other Maori elders at Te Tii Marae in preparation for a visit by John Key, prime minister of New Zealand, and other government officials on Waitangi Day, February 6, after the scheduled signing.
He has previously stated that Mr Key would not be allowed onto the marae if the controversial trade agreement was signed, although a trustee for the marae stated on February 2 that Mr Key would be allowed onto the land.
It is thought that the notice sent to the partner countries of the TPPA is being discussed at the marae in anticipation of the visit, as the document asks the Queen to stand in opposition to the agreement with Mr Taurua “and those other Rangatira o Te Whakaminenga o Ngā Hapū o Nu Tireni” – referring to the other chiefs gathered at the marae – that “agree to … my position”.
The document says that he “requests and requires” the Queen to intervene and act as “Protector” of New Zealand’s sovereignty from “attempts on the sovereignty of our Independent State” by “overseas corporate interests”. At least one other elder has already countersigned the document.
The language of the document echoes that of the Declaration of Independence, which was signed by Mr Taurua’s ancestor, Pareha of Ngati Rehia. He says that another ancestor of his, Te Kemara, was a signatory of the Maori version of the Treaty of Waitangi 1840.
Last year the Waitangi Tribunal found that Maori did not cede sovereignty when they signed the Treaty of Waitangi, and it is apparently this sovereignty by descent – or tino rangatiratanga – that Mr Taurua is claiming he is able to use to formally veto the trade agreement.
The document closes by stating that Mr Taurua “does not give [his] permission to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement being signed in Auckland” by the visiting officials from overseas “which position I take to the full extent of my right to regulate trade in that district.”
The Declaration of Independence, which was approved by the Queen’s predecessor King William IV and ratified by the British government, states that Maori elders would gather at Waitangi each autumn in order to regulate trade.