24 Jan 2016

Govt taken to task over TPP at Ratana

6:56 pm on 24 January 2016

The government has been taken to task over the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership at Ratana Pa this afternoon.

One of the more creative TPP protests at Ratana.

One of the more creative TPP protests at Ratana. Photo: RNZ / Leigh McLachlan

Politicians from most parties have been welcomed on to the pa as part of the annual celebrations marking the birthday of the Ratana Church founder at Ratana Pa south of Whanganui.

Ratana church elders and Maori leaders have complained about the secrecy of the trade deal and have called for its signing to be delayed.

As people drove into Ratana, the first thing they saw was anti-TPP placards in a specially erected stall on the side of the road.

There had been concerns that today's hui could be marred by the protests, but the atmosphere has been calm.

John Key (centre) making his way to the powhiri.

John Key (centre) making his way to the powhiri. Photo: RNZ / Leigh McLachlan

John Key earlier said he would address the trade deal and how it affected Maori in his speech.

"That actually it's good for Maori, it's great for the Maori economy and it's great for jobs and opportunities, and they've got nothing to be fearful of in terms of rights under the treaty."

Mr Key said the government was clear throughout the TPP negotiations that the Treaty of Waitangi had a special place in New Zealand and that the free trade deal would not "run over the top" of the rights conferred by it.

However, Labour Party leader Andrew Little has told those at Ratana the timing and location of the signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership was needlessly provocative.

Mr Little said the signing two days before Waitangi Day, at SkyCity Casino - a large multinational corporate - showed the government's level of arrogance and contempt for the public.

The deal is due to be signed in Auckland on 4 February.

Politicians arrive at Ratana Pa for the annual celebration marking the birthday of Ratana church's founder.

Politicians arrive at Ratana Pa for the annual celebration. Photo: RNZ / Benedict Collins

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