Friday, January 28, 2011


What is the TPPA and how could it threaten our public health system?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is a mega-treaty currently being negotiated between nine countries, including the US, Australia and New Zealand.. In reality, the US will veto the final terms of any agreement that do not adequately serve the interests of its powerful corporations, including the drug companies, health insurers and tobacco giants.
What does the agreement aim to do?

Get rid of ‘barriers’ to business across all the countries involved - including public health policies that corporations object to because they impede their profits. The rules will be binding and enforceable in private international courts for decades; the corporations themselves may even be able to take governments to court and demand mega-millions in compensation for any new policies or laws that they say break the rules.
Have the corporations said which health policies they are targeting?

A whole swathe of health-related policies is potentially subject to the TPPA, ranging from foreign ownership of aged-care chains to health and safety rules for products to health qualifications. Among the most important NZ targets are the Pharmac scheme that makes medicines affordable; the no-fault Accident Compensation scheme for workplace and other accidents; and proposed restrictions on cigarette packaging and sales.
What have those health policies go to do with ‘trade’?

TPPA negotiations aren’t primarily about old-fashioned commodity ‘trade’. They cover complex and overlapping chapters on intellectual property, investors’ rights, market competition and public procurement that would restrict our choice of policies and laws, including public health.
Explain how a TPPA could stop us providing medicines through Pharmac?

Pharmac identifies a list of medicines that are priority for government spending and negotiates the price it will pay for them with the drug companies. The Big Pharma lobby expects the intellectual property chapter of the TPPA to restrict the government’s ability to import cheaper generic drugs that keep prices down and to give companies more power over Pharmac’s decisions. Subsidies to reduce the cost of drugs could also come under attack..
What would that mean for New Zealanders’ access to medicines?

The health budget won’t go so far if the government has to pay more for medicines, meaning it would either have to spend more, fund fewer medicines or require people to pay more. Those who can afford increased premiums for private health insurance would get access to lifesaving medicines, while the poor would have to choose between paying for food, rent or medicines.
Has that happened in other countries that have treaties with the US?

Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, similar to Pharmac, was weakened in the Australia US FTA and faces a renewed assault in the TPPA negotiations. Peru is another TPPA party with a USFTA, whose rules already delay access to cheaper generics medicines.
What is the story with tobacco?

The world’s largest tobacco company Philip Morris International (PMI) has a hit list that targets four main measures: bans on displays of tobacco products; plain packaging of cigarettes; warnings on packets; and restrictions on marketing terms, such as ‘lite’ or ‘low tar’. So far PMI has focused on Singapore and Australia, but it will target any TPPA country adopting similar rules – like those recommended in last year’s Maori Affairs Committee report on Tobacco.
How could a trade agreement stop us regulating cigarettes?

A new law that reduces the value of an ‘investment’, which includes a ‘brand’, can be challenged as a breach of fair and equitable treatment; it’s unclear what benchmark would be used to assess that. PMI could enforced these guarantees directly against the government in a secret international court - it used a similar treaty to file a case against Uruguay in 2010. The rules on ‘distribution services’ could also stop a government from restricting or banning sales of a tobacco product.
Where are the risks for ACC?

NZ’s publicly owned no-fault accident compensation scheme is a political football: National partially privatised ACC in 1999; Labour reversed that in 2000; and National is opening the workers’ account to private competition again (a weasel word for privatisation). There are huge risks in privatisation - ‘cream skimming’ that leaves the state provider covering the unprofitable risks; insurers becoming insolvent; further cut backs in coverage and entitlements, and insurers refusing claims on technicalities, as they commonly do in the US, condemning injured workers and their families to poverty. Remember it is employers who will choose which insurer they use, not the workers who suffer the injuries.
Could a TPPA stop the government from taking back control if privatisation fails?

The financial services and investment chapters a TPPA could prevent another nationalisation of ACC. US firm AIG, which has the largest share of the world market (and received of a $180 billion bailout), will expect the US negotiators to secure guaranteed access to the ACC ‘market’ and the right to sue for mega-compensation if there is another reversal.
Surely there are exceptions that allow governments to put public health first?

There are some exceptions, but they are subject to negotiation. Governments have to invoke them as a defence once a dispute has arisen and the protection they provide is limited and highly contestable. The mere threat of a dispute can force governments to retreat.
Why on earth would our government even consider a TPPA?

Partly because it is looking for trade-offs in the (vain) hope of getting access for more dairy products into the US; partly because it remains an evangelist for privatisation and letting ‘markets’ (corporations) rule; and partly because there is not yet enough pressure to make this kind of deal too politically risky in an election year.
Who is speaking out about this?
The Director of the Public Health Association of New Zealand has voiced its concern:

Health starts, long before illness, in our homes, schools and jobs. Laws - such as food quality, smokefree laws, alcohol control - are our decisions on how to keep our neighbourhoods and homes safer. We should not be told what to do by other countries in a TPPA, just as we should not be letting smaller Pacific states be bullied into bad laws that make bad health, either.
But we have yet to hear from other health professionals. The Greens oppose the TPPA; Labour has said it will protect Pharmac; National is ambivalent; and Maori Party is silent.

What about you? To support the campaign against the TPPA see <> and For more information also see <> and read No Ordinary Deal, ed. Jane Kelsey, from good bookshops or your library.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Wahine Maori Support for Tania Martin, Chair of Te Kauhanganui

Strong Support from Maori Women for Te Kauhanganui Chair Tania Martin.  

Te Whaainga Wahine Maori women’s network, express their support of Tania Martin, the Chairperson of Tainui Tribal Parliament, Te Kauhanganui.   Spokes people for Te Whaainga Wahine Denise Messiter and Irene Kereama-Royal said the approach being used by the tribe’s executive Te Arataura, to discredit and oust her is essentially the same one the Maori Party is using on Hone Harawira. Systemic bullying, dressed up in constitutional policy and procedure, with lashings of cultural rhetoric is an approach that reeks of deception and corruption.  Martin like Harawira has acted with integrity.   She has identified what’s not working, where the problem lies and has suggested solutions to improve the situation. It’s not rocket science.  People expect their leaders to tell the truth and give them some guidance to help resolve any problems.

 Kereama-Royal and Messiter say “Tania is a professional.   She knows right from wrong and good process that is steeped in tikanga Maori. Her actions have shown that she has her peoples’ wellbeing at heart.  We commend her for having the courage to review her Parliament’s spending and to release the findings, which includes decreasing Te Arataura expenditure so that she can increase distributions to her people. Cutting back on operational spending is not a radical recommendation, it is what you would expect a competent Chair to recommend, based on the evidence placed before her.”  

 Te Whaainga Wahine is committed to ensuring that Maori women’s voices are heard on issues and decisions that impact on whenua, whanau and hapu wellbeing and is calling for more accountability amongst Maori leadership in achieving this.

Media enquires:

Denise Messiter ph 07 868475 or 0276443359 email


Irene-Kereama-Royal email

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Press Release Support for Hone Harawira

Media Statement – 20 January 2011

Strong Support from Maori Women for Hone Harawira

Te Whaainga Wahine Maori women’s network, express their support of Hone Harawira as an MP who truly represents his constituents voice.   Spokes people for Te Whaainga Wahine Denise Messiter and Irene Kereama-Royal said the complaint and pending action by Maori Party delegates against Harawira is political cowardice, lacks leadership and a contravention of tikanga Maori. Te Whaainga Wahine are aware that Harawira has consistently demonstrated his constituents' mandate through his actions and articulation of their position on many issues and is based on the original mandate given to the Maori Party to represent and  advocate Maori Tino Rangatiratanga over NZ's foreshore and sea bed. Harawira's opposition to the proposed Marine and Costal Area Bill is consistent with this mandate.

Kereama-Royal and Messiter say “It is obvious to us that the partnership with National is suffocating the Maori party – an indication that they have lost perspective, need to stand aside and let those who can retain the mandated perspective of the kaupapa step forward and take the lead from their constituents.  In this election year if this is a time for Harawira to consider other options and alliances that would be more honourable than the one he is currently in, it would be a decision that has the full support of Te Whaainga Wahine".

Te Whainga Wahine is committed to ensuring that Maori women’s voices are heard on issues and decisions that impact on whenua, whanau and hapu wellbeing and is calling for more accountability amongst Maori leadership in achieving this.

Media enquires:
Denise Messiter ph 07 868475 or 0276443359 email

Irene-Kereama-Royal email

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Update Te Whaainga Wahine

Kia ora Wahine ma

This email is to update  you all of developments with Te Whaainga Wahine since the  Hauraki hui and our apologies for being late with this report back.  It seemed that the hui was over, there was a flurry of activity on facebook, wahine groups establishing and resurfacing and then Christmas and the Tauiwi New Year took over.  That aside, it  is quite amazing that in less than 2 months so much has happened – if these last few weeks set the pace for Te Whaainga Wahine in the future then we need to prepare well for what is on the horizon and beyond.

Central Coordination, Communication & Support
Because of the flurry of activity after the Hauraki hui, Denise in conversation with some of our tuakana held a conference call on 13 Dec 2010.   In discussion we agreed that:
1. Te Whaainga Wahine is a loosely organised, organic network of wahine Maori, that is gathering momentum and needs to be supported to grow.  
2. each roopu who aspires to the kaupapa of Te Whaainga Wahine is independent and will organise and operate in ways which are most appropriate for them
3. we will be connected through our kaupapa and a common set of principles.  A first draft of those principles where developed by some or our wahine at the Hauraki hui.  Those principles need further work and will no doubt be part of our conversations at the next hui in Feb
4. wahine are also asking for support, guidance and mentoring from those who have years of experience in dealing with colonisation, neo-colonisation and advocating for Tino Rangatiratanga.  The term wahine are using for those who are in this category is tuakana, which goes without saying that those who don’t are teina
5. there was an immediate need for central coordination to respond to the activity that has followed the Hauraki hui, so we can move with the flow of Te Whaainga and responsd to calls from wahine for support, guidance, comment and action as they arise.  In this context, we decided to form a Roopu Whakahaere.  The wahine who make up this roopu are essentially those who can volunteer some of their time to this mahi.   They are; Stephanie Harawira, Marama Davidson and Tracy-Lee Rapia from Tamaki, Denise Messiter and Irene Kereama-Royal from Hauraki, Tere Harrison from Poneke, who also suggested that Te Ao Pritchard, from Papaioea be invited to be participate. The main functions this roopu will undertake are:
Seed Funding
Regional Coordination
Contacts Database
Email, Facebook & Blogspot Admin
National Hui Coordination
Regional Roopu Support
Information Dissemination
Media Management

In terms of Te Whaainga being a loosely organised network, our network looks like this:
1. National network is Te Whaainga Wahine
2. Local and regional groups
3. Roopu Whakahaere
4. Guiding the Roopu Whakahaere and Te Whaainga Wahine are our tuakana

Email, Facebook, Blogspot and Webpage
Within 24 hours of the hui in Hauraki finishing, an email address and blogspot had been set up by Tere Harrison.   And within 48 hours Stephanie Harawira had set up a facebook page and website.  Absolutey amasing insight and mahi Tere and Stephanie.

For those of us who have not yet checked out the blogspot you can do that by going to and the website address is
We have two email addresses:
1.  is linked to our  facebook page
2. is linked to the blogspot

Regional Roopu
In less than 2 months new ropu have established and are beginning to hui and network within their regions. They are: Taitokerau Wahine, Ngati Hau Wahine, Tainui Waka, Ngati Maniapoto  Wahine, Kirikiriroa Wahine. The existing groups are: Poneke Wahine, Te Whaainga Wahine o Hauraki, Te Wharepora Hou (Tamaki), Kahungunu Wahine and Papaioea Wahine. That’s 9 regional roopu and at least another 4 establishing (EBOP, Tuhoe, Rotorua & Taranaki).   Feedback from these groups has been astounding in that they have come together out of their own initiative, provided a forum for wahine to meet and rallied to hui and network and join the call from Te Whaainga Wahine to regroup, reconnect and revitalise those things of importance to us as Wahine Maori.

Development of Objectives, Guiding Principles & Support Infrastructure
From the korero coming in from facebook, email and regional hui, we are starting to see some common threads of whakaaro which we will capture into draft objectives, principles, strategies and plans for workshopping at the Feb Hui. Some of that korero includes:
1. Te Whaainga Wahine as a national network for Maori women is providing a new ‘space’ for wahine around the motu through loosely convened regional roopu (easily accessed) to share and network on matters of relevance and importance to them. Unstructured organisation at both the national and regional levels allows wahine to engage more freely and openly without boundaries.
2. There is a need to maintain the integrity of Te Whaainga Wahine as a collective voice for wahine; within a short time we have gained political integrity and resonated with wahine Maori from a diverse range of backgrounds, generations and tribal affiliations.
3. There is a need to develop further the principles that were presented at the Hauraki hui and confirm these at the next TWW hui in Feb
4. There is a need for mentoring, moral support and guidance between those who have travelled this journey for a long time and those who are more recently involved. The Tuakana Teina relationship is important and is a unique form of leadership that is missing in our tribal organisations. We need to have access to our Tuakana leadership and we need to support and mentor new leaders with their guidance.
5. Regional Roopu need support from Tuakana and the roopu whakahaere to establish and to access the information about TWW kaupapa, whakapapa and whaainga.

Roopu Establishment & RAM Support
Irene and I went to Tamaki on 16th Dec to tautoko a Te Wharepora Hou hui.   Whaea Titiwhai came to the hui and gave her tautoko to Te Whaainga Wahine and said she hasn’t been so excited since Nga Tama Toa and that it was comforting to see wahine starting to organise again. We have also been asked to attend the first hui of Kirikiriroa Wahine to talk about the kaupapa and provide guidance for their establishment.    There is also the grandmothers spirit walk that Deidre is organising which needs our support. We are taking her lead on this as well as ensuring any regional RAM's (Random Acts of Mana Wahine) are supported.

Recent Media Releases
Media statements on the Taku Tai Moana Bill and one critiquing the gender equality report released last month by the Ministry of Womens Affairs have been released. Te Wharepora Hou has released several press statements including one about the proposed constitutional review process.

Developing the Kaupapa of TWW
We believe the kaupapa of TWW is being created and developed by wahine as they continue to interact and engage with each other on facebook and in their hui, which probably means it isn't waiting for the next hui to be convened in order to move forward and develop further. We believe we must move with the momentum and actively respond to calls for support, guidance, comment and action.   If you check the FB info page you will see the kaupapa has been forming through a myriad of issues and dialogue since the Hauraki Hui so it will be a matter of gauging where we are up to with that by Feb to ensure the hui in Papaioea is as responsive to the movement as the mahi in between is. We will support the programme to provide enough flexibility to canvass the topical issues of that time.

Seed Funding
We recognise that some seed funding, which is not dependent on any government scheme or service. would assist with the establishment of Te Whaainga Wahine and would help achieve some of its plans for the future.   As things seem to be happening with Te Whaainga Wahine, an opportunity has opened up for us to consider applying for seed funding from an an International Humanitarian Projects Fund.   Te Roopu Whakahaere and some of our tuakana will meet with representatives of the fund on Jan 18th and will report back on the outcome of that meeting at the next national hui of Te Whaainga Wahine in February.

UN Representation
Prior to Christmas there was a lengthy facebook message discussion about registering a wahine Maori NGO with the UN – it was unclear whether Te Whaainga Wahine was being asked to be that representative voice. Essentially our repsonse to this is that Te Whaainga doesn’t fit the criteria to be registered as an NGO with the UN.  We will we tautoko other wahine organisations if they wanted to go down that track.

Next National Hui of Te Whaainga Wahine
The next national hui of Te Whaainga Wahine is in Papaioea from Fri Feb 25th to Sun Feb 27th and is being hosted by wahine from Papaioea.  The hui will be at the marae at Massey.   More details will be available from Papaioea shortly and will posted on our blogspot, FB and emailed out to those on our mailing list.

Ngaa Mihi
Denise & Irene