Māori looking to capitalise on China deal

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Seafood harvester and exporter Moana New Zealand see greater exporting benefits for iwi and Māori fisheries. It follows the signing of a recent trade agreement this week between New Zealand and China.

Leaders of the Māori fishing industry are optimistic they can hook into New Zealand's plans to increase trade with China.

Te Ohu Kaimoana Chair Jamie Tuuta told Te Kāea, “The most important aspect of that relationship is to find markets that will benefit New Zealand companies. These Māori companies export our products and bring back the benefits to the companies and their shareholders.”

This week, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Bill English signed a number of agreements to work together on.

“The arrival of the Chinese Premier is a sign that China wants to work with New Zealand. If that goes well, there will be benefits in those negotiations not only for New Zealand but for Māori as well.”

The trade deal will mean faster border clearance for some New Zealand exporters. Moana New Zealand has had a strong relationship with China for the past 30 years and sees great benefits for Māori fisheries and businesses.

Moana New Zealand Chair Whaimutu Dewes says, “First, the people of that land know well the deliciousness of the seafood of these oceans here. Second, they have the means to purchase it. Third, they have a huge population.”

The two-way trade between New Zealand and China reached a new high of $23bil in 2016, three times what it was before the 2008 free trade agreement between the two countries. But Te Ohu Kaimoana chair says we must exercise caution.

“We still need to be careful when dealing with overseas companies and businesses eyeing up New Zealand to create their own agenda.”

New Zealand and China will begin talks on an upgrade of the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries next month on Anzac Day.