Māori businesses raise cultural IP concerns in Singapore

By Talisa Kupenga

Māori business community members have raised concerns about the protection of Māori cultural intellectual property rights with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Singapore Friday.  

Wakatū Incorporation board director Miriana Stephens says the government needs to step up- and fast.

“We heard the PM say today that NZ has taken a stand as a country around nuclear-free, around women’s rights, but what about customary rights?"

Stephens says there is a hunger for Māori business overseas, but outdated trade laws and new deals like the CPTPP offer little to no protection for Māori culture on the global stage.

“It’s weak around the Treaty provisions and also around overseas investment so there are ways that the government could have done a better job in terms of negotiating those aspects of those agreements.”

Ardern says, “Even the Waitangi Tribunal looked at those provisions and said that they were adequate were in that agreement and we will always ensure that those protections are in each agreement that we negotiate as a government.”

Ardern was in Singapore talking trade and politics with world leaders.  Stephens says big players overseas have stronger protections in place.

“If you go to a trade negotiation with the EU…you can’t even see their eyes because of all the geographical indicators that they’ve got protected for things like ‘champagne’ in France.

“When New Zealanders go we don’t have any paperwork because we haven’t protected any of our rights.  I doubt that the trade agreements being negotiated protect any of our rights.”

The prime minister leaves Singapore Saturday morning to travel to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, to join the 21 Asia Pacific countries and world leaders at the Asia Pacific Economic Corporation (APEC) summit where trade, climate change and regional development will be discussed.