Strengthening Māori aspirations in radio spectrum

New agreements between Te Puni Kōkiri, Hīkina Whakatutuki and the Interim Māori Spectrum Commission will see Māori participation expanding in spectrum and digital industries.

Published: Rāmere, 23 Pipiri, 2023 | Friday, 23 June 2023

Secretary for Māori Development, Dave Samuels and Chief Executive of Hīkina Whakatutuki, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) Carolyn Tremain signed two agreements with the Interim Māori Spectrum Commission (the Commission) at a milestone event held in Wellington this week.

The signing ceremony transfers to the Commission long-term management rights of 100 MHz of the 3.5 GHz radio spectrum from MBIE and the remaining $17.8 million balance of the Ka Hao Fund from Te Puni Kōkiri. It is a fantastic outcome that follows many years of close collaboration.

Minister for Māori Development, Willie Jackson attended and said the agreements are a commitment to strengthening the significant interests and aspirations of Māori in the radio spectrum.

The Māori Spectrum Working Group (the Working Group) was established in May 2019 to secure Māori rights and interests in the telecommunications spectrum, to negotiate with the Crown, Māori, and the telecommunications sector, and to develop an enduring solution that will ultimately hold and manage those interests.

The Working Group comprises representatives of Treaty of Waitangi claimants and others who are negotiating with Ministers and officials to oversee Māori interests and engagement in radio spectrum.

The efforts of the Working Group have been vital to achieving this milestone and Minister Jackson made sure to acknowledge Group Chair Piripi Walker and members for their dedication to this important kaupapa that began approximately 40 years ago.

The Commission was established by the Working Group as its operational arm and will undertake the responsibilities of the intended permanent Māori Spectrum Entity, on behalf, and for the benefit of Māori, until the permanent Entity is established.

The Commission’s mahi holds great potential for Māori and will open the door for the next generation to harness the opportunities they may seek to support and create within the spectrum and digital industries.

Minister for the Digital Economy and Communication, Ginny Andersen was unable to attend but wanted to also recognise the signing ceremony as a significant achievement for the Crown, this Government, the telecommunication industry, and of course Māori.

She advised that she was excited to be a part of this historic moment where the Crown delivered on a number of key commitments agreed to last February, including the transfer of valuable radio spectrum, which will enable Māori to play a key role in the telecommunications industry.

Carolyn Tremain spoke briefly, acknowledging the work of the Māori Spectrum Working Group and of how significant a milestone this is for the future economic growth for Māori in both spectrum and digital industries.   

Group Chair Piripi Walker addressed approximately 60 attendees from all three organisations as well as guests from Te Arawhiti and Manatū Taonga. He acknowledged the many hands it has taken to get to here, including the late Dr Huirangi Waikerepuru and Rangiaho Everton, as well as Whatarangi Winiata. Piripi assured attendees that they would be gathered in his house in Ōtaki with a huge smile on their faces knowing what had been achieved.

He also made special mention of Anaru Robb, who had done much for the Working Group, but sadly passed before reaching this important part of the journey.

“Our bag is on our shoulder, and we are moving forward,” said Mr Walker.

Te Puni Kōkiri Māori Wellbeing Director, Tāmati Olsen and his team and Investment Director Karen McGuinness and her team, have been leading this mahi on behalf of Te Puni Kōkiri and have done an amazing job. A special mention also needs to go to Robbie Galvin, who has been involved in radio spectrum for Te Puni Kōkiri since the early 2000’s and was heavily involved in this current work.

Photo caption: Dave with Piripi Walker signing the agreement that transfers $17.8 million from Te Puni Kōkiri to the interim Māori Spectrum Commission.

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