This is the message conveyed to the Te Taumata Board by the recently appointed New Zealand Ambassador to the World Trade Organisation, Clare Kelly, during a flying visit back to Aotearoa last week.
Hone McGregor and Carrie Stoddart-Smith (two of our Te Taumata Directors) recently attended a meeting of the WTO in Geneva Switzerland, where they laid out our mahi over the last two years engaging Māori business leaders and exporters across the country, and advocating their interests into the Trade Negotiations across the world.
Notably, this has included the new Free Trade Agreements with the United Kingdom and the European Union, two massive new markets for Māori exporters says Te Taumata Chair, Chris Karamea Insley.
As an indigenous and authentic voice for Māori on trade between Aotearoa and the rest of the world, Te Taumata seeks every opportunity to connect directly with world leaders to discuss matters that advance the interests of Māori businesses in international trade.
“We don’t just have a responsibility to advance the interests of indigenous peoples of the world into the trade discussion, we have an obligation,” says Hone McGregor.
Clare Kelly was impressed with Te Taumata’s mahi to progress the interests of Māori in international trade negotiations, stating that Te Taumata is setting the standard globally for international indigenous trade.
This kōrero continued over the week with Te Taumata Director, Tania Te Whenua, meeting with WTO Director General Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala last week to discuss opportunities to increase indigenous voices and women representation at the WTO.
Tania says the hui was a huge success, with the group “spotlighting the intrinsic nature of Māori culture and acknowledging the mana of Māori women as political, social and economic leaders within Te Ao Māori, alongside Māori men.”
“The success of wahine Māori in business leadership is due to our unwavering resolve to hold fast to our tikanga and lead our businesses in a way which has underpinned a trend the Reserve Bank describes as a shift from volume to values-based business practice.
“Given the important contribution that wāhine Māori, women of colour and women in general make to economic development alongside indigenous peoples, we closed by encouraging the Director-General to continue to spotlight the importance of our contribution at the WTO, and to create space for our contribution to continue to be garnered.”
The group’s messages were well received by Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who says they “resonated closely”. She closed the meeting with her strong sentiments that she wished for the discussion to continue.
New Zealand’s Ambassador to the WTO, Clare Kelly stressed that she is keen to work closely with the Te Taumata Board to advance Māori interests into all of the WTO discussions.
“This is something I am very determined we will do, as there are a number of significant issues to Māori exporters on the WTO agenda like fisheries and fossil fuel subsidies and interests of indigenous peoples across the world,” says Chris.
“Like Hone, I share that we as Te Taumata have an obligation to advance not just our own Māori interests on international trade, but the interests of indigenous people and communities across the globe.”