Maori at odds over spectrum
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Maori interests are divided over Treaty of Waitangi claims on radio spectrum which is vital for the roll out of the next generation in mobile telecommunications.
A decision is due before Cabinet on how to handle a treaty claim on the 700MHz spectrum that will be available when the digital switchover is completed at the end of the year.
The last major spectrum allocation took place under the previous Labour government, and it allocated a portion to Te Huarahi Tika Trust, which, in the form of the Hautaki Trust, became a shareholder in 2degrees.
Treaty claimant Graeme Everton is warning that the same solution might be applied again.
“Being a person who opposed the unilateral deal imposed on Maori by the Crown at the time, it is not hard for me to see and become seriously concerned that the poorly conceived and hastily implemented ‘compromise deal’ would 14 years later not only fail to deliver little in the way of benefits, let alone advance the participation of Maori in the ICT industry,” he writes in a discussion paper emailed to Computerworld.
Hautaki selling shares
Everton is concerned about recent moves by Hautaki to sell some of its equity in 2degrees. Hautaki has only managed to retain a 10.18 percent shareholding in the telco with the help of 2degrees majority shareholder Trilogy International, which provided the trust with a $2.6 million loan to maintain its stake.
Antony Royal, a trustee of both trusts and a board member of 2degrees, is promoting the sell-down of the Hautaki Trust’s shares to other Maori groups.
“We’ve been acquiring shares on behalf of Maori and 2degrees for some time now on the basis that we’re holding onto them until Maori organisations are ready and want to take up the opportunity to invest in 2degrees. So we think the timing is right.”
Current Maori investors in 2degrees are Tuaropaki Communications, Wairarapa Moana and Hautaki.
A joint statement issued by Te Huarahi Tika Trust and Hautaki Trust promoting the investment notes that 2degrees "is earning the cash flow needed to cover operating costs."
"Healthy leverage in business paln provides for future investment in an industry requiring on-going captital injection to keep up wtih technological advance. Ms [Mavis] Mullins [Hautaki Limited chair] affirmed that the company is on track to meet profitability targets within the 12 months," the statement says.
Royal says that Maori organisations looking to invest will need to make an assessment about whether 2degrees - which posted a loss of $92.6 million for the 2011 – will need ongoing funding to improve its market share.
This point is not lost on Everton, who writes: “No doubt 2degrees will require even more investment in 2013, with the prospect of having to purchase new spectrum and equipment to build out the next generation of mobile networks to remain a competitive player in the mobile space.”
New Te Huarahi Tiki Trustees
This month Te Huarahi Tiki Trust will appoint new trustees, some of whom have a significant public profile, they include Ian Taylor, Animation Research Limited; Mereana Selby, Te Wananga o Raukawa; John Tamihere, Te Whanau o Waipareira; Toa Greening, IT engineering specialist based in Manukau and Karaitiana Taiuru, New Zealand Maori Internet Society
They will join Daphne Luke [Hautaki chair], Royal and Bill Osborne the current directors.
"These new appointments will strengthen the Trust's capacity to advance the interests of Māori in telecommunications including the Trust's involvement as a member of the Spectrum Claimant Coalition," the Trusts' joint statement says.
The coalition comprises of Te Huarahi Tiki Trust, Te Putahi Paoho, Nga Kaiwhakapumau, Graeme Everton and the New Zealand Maori Council, which has "engage in discussion with the Crown through ICT Minister Amy Adams and Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples for the past two years," the Trusts' statement says.
"The Coalition prepared a major paper for the Nation in November to be considered by Cabinet. Subsequently, Minister Adams provided Cabinet with her advice. We have yet to receive Cabinet's response to our statement of position.
"A cabinet paper prepared by Minister Adams' office is to be considered by Cabinet at a future date. The auction of the 700MHz band of spectrum is looming, the Coalition was mandated by Maori at a national hui held in November to return to the Waitangi Tribunal for a decision. Te Huarahi Tika will be part of that effort."
Who will benefit?
Royal says who will benefit from a successful claim on spectrum is a matter for Maori to discuss. “It certainly makes sense for Maori to have a comprehensive, single organisation to manage and to operate spectrum for Maori, but that’s a conversation that Maori need to have. Certainly Te Huarahi Tika Trust has a mandate from the Maori Electoral College.”
There does appear to be some consensus that the Crown should settle the claim for all spectrum – and not just when parts of it become available such as 700MHz. However, this could mean that the government would have to recognise spectrum as taonga, which ICT Minister Amy Adams has to date refused to do.
“I think it’s fair to say that the government’s view around spectrum and the Maori viewpoint potentially is still at odds,” says Royal.
*This article has been added to since it was first published in the Computerworld print edition on February 11, 2013.
So yes Maori pursue these hard assets on the basis it is putting back together the economic, culture and social foundations for the next generation so they doesn't have to listen to the ignorant few who have nothing better to do but to rant on about "everyone is equal" mantra while we all know that it isn't true.
Maori have spent over 30 years in the spectrum debate and time and time again proven through a legal process that spectrum is a toanga. Its not something that has just happened. And though Maori have pursued a negotiated settlement involving a fair and equatable sharing of the resource, why is it then okay for one party e.g. the Crown to ignore all this effort and say screw you, we make the rules and we aren't going to acknowledge the opportunity. Come on get real, move on from your racist ignorance and realize that when Maori fight for what is right, its only a matter of time before the truth prevails and we get justice.
Posted by Graeme at 5:46:54 on February 13, 2013
Posted by Anonymous at 10:49:29 on February 13, 2013
Of course things are not perfect and Maori will have to continue to strive for better but at least they are committed to New Zealand and future generations. My point is that at least Maori retain ownership in the hands of New Zealand and not see it go overseas.
Posted by Graeme at 12:25:30 on February 13, 2013
It has a lot to do with fear of what may be done with that spectrum. This applies equally to the mobile telcos Vodafone and Telecom.
These corporates have hogged spectrum for their own reasons (anti-competition ones I think), charged megabucks for services (Telecom mobile broadband overage charges are $100 per GB compared to overage on wired broadband networks of around $2 per GB) and provided an inferior and constrained broadband service (high latency, low speeds, dropouts and low committed information rate).
These are all issues of particular concern to the 25% of our population that the government defines as living in rural areas, most of whom will come to rely on 3G, and ultimately 4G, wireless services for their fixed broadband services.
The issue is that Graeme Everton has made it clear that he would sell the spectrum to the highest bidder, making him no better in this regard, than the mobile telcos. There is no sense of taonga in his press statements, only economic advantage to one section of our society. As a matter of principle, that approach needs to be resisted.
It is well established that the radio spectrum is a taonga to Maori. No doubting that.
But in today's digital society, it is also a a treasure to non-Maori. That the mobile telcos covet the 700MHz band as a goldmine is another matter but one that reinforces the belief that the radio spectrum is part of "The Commons" and ought not, must not, be sold in to private ownership for the reaping of private profits.
It must stay in public ownership and management so that all may benefit from this common wealth.
If Maori truly considered the radio spectrum as a cultural taonga, then they would be arguing for a different approach to the management and allocation of the 700MHz band instead of blatantly trying to secure it for their own economic advantage.
Posted by Rural Connect at 9:40:01 on February 13, 2013
- a change in the way the spectrum is managed
- a move away from the auction system
- a move away from spectrum being able to be accumulated for commercial gain
- a move away from spectrum being controlled by those with the deepest pockets, ultimately paid for consumers
- a single set of infrastructure that reduces the impact on communities and reduces capital investment resulting in lower consumer prices.
Unfortunately we have to deal with the hand we have been given .. the auctioning of property rights in spectrum and try to make the best of that.
Posted by Antony at 9:08:38 on February 14, 2013
Get real, its the Government that has set the current rules and Maori are just working within them at the moment to progress the opportunities as best they can. The reality is if you follow the trends in the development of wireless technology, within the next 10 to 20 years spectrum ownership will phaseout and return to communal ownership because smart gadgets will manage spectrum dynamically. In the mean time Maori need to use the assets they have to build the foundation for the future of their people.
Rather than focus on chastising Maori for trying to secure an economic position why don't you get the rural heartland to use its vote at the next election to change the Government to a party who will change the system. Until then Maori will deal with the hand they have.
Posted by Graeme at 12:05:18 on February 13, 2013
Posted by Karaitiana at 13:24:25 on February 12, 2013
(a) Maori have rangatiratanga over radio frequency allocation in that:
(i) nothing in the terms of the Treaty of Waitangi allows or foreshadows any authority on the part of the Crown to determine, define or limit the properties of the universe which may be used by Maori in the exercise of their rangatiratanga over tikanga Maori;
(ii) where any property or part of the universe has, or may have, value as an economic asset, the Crown has no authority under the Treaty to possess, alienate, or otherwise treat it as its own property without recognising the prior claim of Maori rangatiratanga;
(iii) where any property or part of the universe has value as a cultural asset, because of its ability to assist or sustain an activity which represents the preservation and sustenance (or undisturbed possession) of tikanga Maori, the Crown has an obligation under the Treaty of Waitangi to recognise and guarantee Maori rangatiratanga over its allocation and use for that purpose;
(iv) the sale of exclusive licenses to propagate radio waves has the effect, de facto, of controlling the activity of broadcasting. It places restrictions and prohibitions upon Maori which prevent their guaranteed freedom to exercise rangatiratanga over tikanga Maori; and
(v) the Crown's kawanatanga does not empower it to create property rights in any part of the universe, or any activity which utilises a special quality of the universe, prior to negotiation with, and the express agreement of, rangatira Maori:
(b) the sale of frequency management licenses under the Radiocommunications Act 1989 without negotiating an agreement with Maori would be in breach of the Treaty of Waitangi and prejudicial to the interests of Maori.8
Posted by Anonymous at 15:41:33 on February 12, 2013
Posted by Anonymous at 15:01:24 on February 12, 2013
Posted by Anonymous at 15:41:31 on February 12, 2013