23 Feb 2013

Govt rules out giving spectrum to Maori

7:29 am on 23 February 2013

The Government is refusing to give a portion of the valuable broadcasting spectrum to Maori claimants.

For years, a coalition of Treaty partners has been attempting to secure a piece of the 700 megahertz band.

It's being freed up for fourth generation mobile phone services through the country's shift to digital television.

But on Thursday ministers announced none of the spectrum will be allocated to Maori groups, who continue to argue the technology is a taonga or a treasure.

The spectrum will be auctioned off from October this year.

Despite there being no allocation to Maori, Cabinet is looking at setting up a $30 million information communications technology fund for tangata whenua.

The Government says the spectrum is not a taonga, a position it says is in line with previous administrations.

The minister responsible for the decision, Amy Adams, says a portion of the spectrum does not need to be set aside to meet what she calls shared objectives to protect Maori language and culture.

The Maori Party says the decision not to supply Maori groups with a portion of the broadcasting band shows a complete disregard to an earlier Waitangi Tribunal report on radio spectrum and international law on indigenous rights.

Co-leader Tariana Turia says claimants offered a solution to receive shares - but the Government didn't back it.

She warns that the days of the Government continuing to take resources that clearly were in Aotearoa, before any Government was established, are fast coming to an end.