The Solicitor-General has defended the Crown's consultation on the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership at a Waitangi Tribunal hearing to decide whether to hold an urgent inquiry.
The Waitangi Tribunal has been hearing arguments on whether it should hold an urgent inquiry into the deal. The Tribunal is hearing in Wellington today.
Maori individuals and organisations from around the motu have filed claims alleging the trade deal will jeopardise their Treaty rights, while the Crown says it will not.
Members of the Tribunal panel for the hearing in Wellington today are the Maori Land Court judge Mike Doogan, business director Tania Simpson, lawyer David Cochrane, Sir Doug Kidd and Sir Tamati Reedy.
Judge Doogan said the panel was not convinced the Tribunal should seek to intervene at such a late stage, when the TPP negotiations could be concluded within weeks.
But he said that view could change if an agreement is not reached quickly. He asked the claimants to explain why they had left it until recently to take their concerns to the Tribunal.
Two tribunal panel members, David Cochrane and Sir Doug Kidd, asked the Solicitor-General if the Crown had engaged in meaningful talks with Maori during the TTP process.
Mike Heron QC said it had consulted widely, including taking advice from Te Puni Kokiri and Maori industry.
However, Mr Heron had to defer answering some questions.
Cathy Ertell is a lawyer acting for claimant Paparangi Reid. She said the Crown seemed unable to justify its position.
"It's like we can't tell you, but you've got to trust us and we're trying our best but we don't know what we're trying to do, and we won't talk to you because we can't.
"So far the Solicitor-General has been unable to answer many of the questions that the Tribunal has posed to him."