Talks sought over spectrum deal before Tribunal hearing

A collective of Maori groups is attempting to kick start talks with the Crown over their claim to the airwaves.

The Maori Coalition has resolved to seek an urgent hearing at the Waitangi Tribunal, if the Government does not agree to allocate a portion of the radio frequency spectrum to Maori.

The Ministry of Economic Development is due to auction the 700 megahertz spectrum next year, which will be used for fourth generation mobile phone technology.

Maori interests say the allocation of spectrum rights must be in line with the Treaty of Waitangi, meaning a share should be set aside for Maori.

Coalition member Graeme Everton said they prefer direct negotiations over going back to the Tribunal.

Mr Everton is the son of the late Rangiaho Everton - the Ngati Raukawa kuia who laid claim to Maori interests in the radio spectrum in 1999.

The Maori Coalition represents organisations that include the Maori Council and Nga Kaiwhakapumau, or the Wellington Maori Language Board.

The Waitangi Tribunal has already said the spectrum is a taonga (treasure).

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