Claimants ask Crown for update on TPP

12:07 pm on 4 August 2015

Lawyers acting for Māori opposed to a Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement are asking the Crown for an urgent progress report.

The Waitangi Tribunal is hearing arguments on whether it should hold an urgent inquiry into the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations.

The Waitangi Tribunal hearing arguments on whether it should hold an urgent inquiry. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Claimants from around the motu want the Waitangi Tribunal to hold an urgent inquiry into the proposed free trade deal which they say could breach the Treaty.

The Tribunal signalled last month there might be little point in trying to intervene when negotiations were so close to concluding.

And in its decision released yesterday, the Tribunal said it was not convinced there was a proper basis to intervene in the final stage of the TPP negotiations.

"We therefore decline urgency on the terms sought by the claimants," it said. "We go on to consider, whether there may nonetheless be grounds for an urgent hearing of these claims as and when the text of any final agreement becomes available."

But the Tribunal said if negotiations went beyond the United States election in 2016, it would revisit the question after a further hearing.

Claimant counsel Kathy Ertel said after negotiations last week failed to reach a conclusion, and with obstacles blocking a deal, the Crown had to concede there was a realistic window for an inquiry.

She said claimants wanted a full hearing to review the Crown's failures in consultation, and to determine what level of input Maori were entitled to when the government seeks to negotiate such deals.

Ms Ertel said the Crown had adopted a confrontational stance towards people objecting to the TPP.