Post Series: Should Indigenous economies take the LEAP? (3)

WIBF photo
Conference Dinner, World Indigenous Business Forum 2018, Rotorua

In the previous two posts, I laid out the context and set the theoretical framework to answer a question: whether indigenous economies should take the LEAP.

This final part outlines ways to conceive of practicing mana motuhake within the existing legal system by carving out special jurisdictions that enable Indigenous Peoples to enter trading relationships and pursue their economic aspirations on their own terms.

These posts serve only as introductions to ideas about practical approaches to realising Indigenous self-determination.

The link to theory

With increased cooperation in the Asia Pacific region, Indigenous Peoples have become visible to each other again in economic and trade contexts. Events like the World Indigenous Business Forum or the World Indigenous Tourism Summit indicate that tribal leaders and indigenous entrepreneurs are looking for ways to leverage those opportunities and reinvigorate the entrepreneurial spirit and pragmatism of their ancestors for future generations. Countries around the world are exploring and evolving policies as an innovative approach to accelerate economic development in areas of high deprivation or underdevelopment – unfortunately a space that Indigenous Peoples know too well as a direct result of the violence of colonisation. There have been mixed successes and many lessons, one of the more well known examples being Shenzhen, China.

The essence of these posts is to suggest that there is an opportunity for New Zealand to support Māori to introduce everyday acts of resurgence into the international trade context to open up new spaces for cultural resurgence which could create and set new trade and economic expectations driven by Indigenous Peoples and their relationships to planet, place and people.

Exploring development models

In exploring development models, international models provide a useful and persuasive starting point. Intensive research from the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development (Harvard Project) founded by Professors Stephen Cornell and Joseph P. Kalt confirms that Indigenous Peoples achieve better outcomes when enabled to make decisions about their own economic development (Harvard Project, n.d.). In its 20 years of operation, the Harvard Project has established four key themes that matter to the success of indigenous development models: sovereignty, institutions, culture and leadership (Harvard Project, n.d.). Comparably, Special Economic Zones (SEZs) which by general definition refer to geographic locations within a national territory where the normal domestic rules do not all apply (Bell, 2016, pp.959-960) offer various exemptions and incentives to conduct business through free trade, foreign trade, export processing, and enterprise zones depending on the specific needs of the community (Crampton & Acharya, 2015, p.6).

SEZs and LEAPs as regional development policy initiatives provide alternatives for policy makers to “experiment with different regulations without threatening established national power structures” and to “trial and promote reforms that other regions could replicate or borrow from to meet the needs their particular constituency” ensuring that governments are responsive and relevant to their communities (Crampton & Acharya, 2010, p.6). Adopting this regional lens has benefits because New Zealand’s economic policy agencies already work in regionally defined programmes and this focus can assist in prioritising a range of development zone areas. These strategic and political levers matter because at a practical level policy solutions require political will.

SEZs are often adopted to encourage investment and stimulate growth in underdeveloped areas (Bell, 2010; Crampton & Acharya, 2015). However, some of the challenges SEZs confront include mixed success resulting from low institutional quality, poor local infrastructure, or corruption (Crampton & Acharya, 2015, p.6). The more radical LEAP zones (LEAPs) “special legal, economic, administrative, and political jurisdictions” are smaller in size than SEZs but draw people to them voluntarily as opposed to imposing them on existing communities (Klugmann, 2013). LEAPs share similar themes to the Harvard Project findings including their inherently regional focus, freedom to regulate according to the needs of the community, and an emphasis on leadership and credible institutions (Bell, 2016; Wong & Buba, 2017; Crampton & Acharya, 2015). Whereas SEZs focus on market liberalisation and financial incentives to do business in the designated zones (Crampton & Acharya, 2015; Bell, 2016; Wong & Buba, 2017), LEAPs offer more flexibility to advance the broader set of Māori aspirations. However, improving the usefulness of these models for the Māori context will require some deviation from the standard SEZ or LEAP definition: shifting the driver from economic growth to collective capability for self-determination.

Murphy (2014) describes the collective capability for self-determination as “members of a distinct political community” cooperating to implement a shared vision and build the physical, cultural, legal and political infrastructure to “shape their individual and collective futures” (pp.323-324). He also considers “capability for collective self-determination partly constitutive of the freedom and well-being of communities and their individual members” (Murphy, 2014, p.326). In linking Murphy’s approach to both Corntassel and Puig, collective capability could be produced through a combination of indigenous self-determination principles and approaches that policy makers could apply to development models such as LEAPs to accelerate indigenous economic development underpinned by a both responsibility to the natural world (Corntassel, 2012) and achieving community oranga (wellbeing) (Murphy, 2014). Re-framing in this way, centres communities and their wellbeing in trade discussions as opposed to market liberalisation which is often met with fierce opposition by indigenous communities due to the negative impacts globalisation inflicts on Indigenous Peoples and the protection of their natural resources (Puig, 2019). It also aligns with the Harvard Project findings that:

“When Native nations make their own decisions about what development approaches to take, they consistently outperform external decision makers on matters as diverse as governmental form, natural resource management, economic development, health care and social service provision” (Harvard Project)

There is a risk that devolving or ascribing LEAP functions for a geographical area outside of government controls could create domestic tensions as some of the public may express concerns about political stability if alternative legal or rules structures operate within the nation structure. However, this already happens to an extent with Local Government and as discussed throughout previously, marae already demonstrate how tikanga and kawa can operate inside a national legal structure without the threat of instability. As human beings, we have shown that we can operate according to a range of rules within a meta structure without things falling apart. LEAPs are not about implementing lawless regions, they are about enabling particular rules to be decided according to the needs of the particular community independent of the national body of rules.

Framing matters. Articulating the value proposition of LEAPs as exploring new ways to give effect to indigenous self-determination in a way that complements the national legal narrative will be imperative. Explaining the models innovation potential that combines the very best models available as the starting point, not the aspiration could shift opponents from a fear of instability to an optimism of possibility (Klugmann, 2013). For instance, rather than settling trade or investment disputes in courtrooms or through arbitration tribunals, they could be settled in the marae – kanohi ki te kanohi – direct between the parties, thereby reshaping and humanising commercial matters that in contemporary times have become highly impersonal transactions.

Imagining a Māori SEZ or LEAP in New Zealand 

In terms of modelling, Bell (2016) notes that “[z]ones have in recent years begun shifting away from encouraging international trade with relatively simple financial incentives-exemptions from customs obligations, toward ‘multiuse developments’” comprising industries, commercial, retail, residential and tourism (p.974). The multiuse proposition could be particularly useful for developing remote or rural areas, or those smaller towns with high levels of poverty due to low employment – in both urban and rural settings. While not enjoying the special economic status of an SEZ or LEAP, Ruakura, the inland port and logistics hub owned by Tainui Group Holdings (TGH) reflects a multiuse type arrangement with the associated benefits (Ruakura, n.d.) and provides a potentially useful starting point to imagining an SEZ or LEAP in New Zealand in an indigenous commercial context.

Ruakura is located within the Golden Triangle[1] with rail and road connections to both Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) and Tauranga ports (Ruakura, n.d.). When fully operational, it will offer a logistics and freight hub, residential areas, innovation centres and retail, providing jobs and homes for more than 10,000 employees and around 4,500 residents at Ruakura (Ruakura, n.d.). Given the stage of development for Ruakura, there is an opportunity for TGH and the government to explore these kinds of innovative approaches to accelerate the operationalisation of the hub. Comparing indigenous initiatives with different zone statuses and at varying levels of zone potential could enable TGH and the government to gain deeper insight into the innovation potential for indigenous economies, and their future trade and international relationships.

Iron Horse Industrial Park a Foreign Trade Zone in the U.S. owned by the Citizen Potawatomi Nation (Iron Horse, n.d.), offers a useful comparative case for TGH and the government to consider how it could support Waikato Tainui to exercise its mana motuhake (self-determination) through acquiring LEAP status for its development (if it desired that status).  Iron Horse received Foreign Trade Zone status in 2014 to enable more liberalised international business transactions and to provide benefits such as tax incentives and duty exemptions, reductions and deferrals for businesses and investors seeking to enter the U.S. market (Iron Horse, n.d.). Like Ruakura, it is strategically located, and is considered a magnet site of the Port of Greater Oklahoma City’s FTZ (Iron Horse, n.d.). If TGH could attract the investment it needs to supercharge its Ruakura industrial development, the benefits of that investment – building the collective capability for self-determination of its people – could potentially accrue to its tribal members much sooner than its current timeframe of 2041.

Given the shape of our societies, the importance of both advancing iwi developments and exploring similar opportunities for urbanised Māori, is critical for policy makers to also explore to unlock the full potential of the diverse economies within Te Ao Māori.  Two examples for conceptualising innovative approaches for advancing urban indigenous economies is the city of Toronto’s Indigenous Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ICIE) that is currently under development (City of Toronto, n.d.) and He Waka Eke Noa, a social procurement intermediary based in Manukau, Auckland.

Note: conceptualising LEAPs in urban environments creates a range of challenges – including challenges around tribal interests in land where it might be proposed that a LEAP is established. One way around this significant challenge could include corrective contemporary Te Tiriti settlements but this is a topic of its own and would require careful, inclusive and transparent consideration.

Indigenous Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ICIE)

When complete, the ICIE will offer a range of economic supports to Indigenous Peoples such as business incubators and accelerator programmes for entrepreneurs to scale up their businesses (City of Toronto, n.d.). It will also provide a commercial space for indigenous economic connections that will operate as a hub in what is to become an indigenous business district in downtown Toronto (City of Toronto, n.d.). The notion of an indigenous business district enables the City of Toronto to expand its vision and to outsource its development to the Indigenous Peoples it will serve. These kinds of initiatives support notions of resurgence as expressed by Corntassel (2012), and provide the infrastructure to build collective capability as imagined by Murphy (2010) and the rules and procedures of how any international trade could be managed from within zone (Puig, 2019), but all of those components require the open minds of decision makers and the institutional support to back them.

He Waka Eke Noa

New Zealand could look to the ICIE model to explore the potential to evolve He Waka Eke Noa from a virtual hub to a physical hub similar to the ICIE with the broader aspiration of establishing an indigenous business district with LEAP status in Manukau.

He Waka Eke Noa currently operates as an intermediary function that “connects Māori and Pasifika-owned businesses with clients and buyers wanting to purchase goods, services and works” (He Waka Eke Noa, n.d.). This initiative is the result of a collaboration between local and central government agencies in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) indicating that the model – as an innovation – enjoys a sufficient level of institutional support to improve its chances of success. The value proposition of a He Waka Eke Noa as the centre of an indigenous business district, is its current location in South Auckland – an area with one of the highest concentrations of Māori in the rohe and therefore the ability for Māori in the area to benefit directly from local jobs and local spend in the community.  In addition, its upgraded public transport infrastructure and proximity to the Auckland International Airport also presents global opportunities at its doorstep, with ease of access to a major trade and logistics hub and the ability to attract local spend from increasing traveller flows to the region to help sustain jobs and enterprise in the area.

Other levers and their linkages to LEAPs

When thinking about LEAPs in the indigenous context, ‘reservations’ also come to mind. While marae reservations in New Zealand are not an ideal comparative to North American reservations, understanding the Canadian and U.S. reservation models provides a way of understanding how to better utilise the marae reservation status. North American reservations arise from negotiated settlements with their settler governments, where a “portion of their traditional territory is reserved for permanent use by the tribe” (Sierra Project, 2015, p.3). Along with the reservation of land, the Tribe is accorded a degree of sovereignty to enact laws and govern people within its territories (Sierra Project, 2015, p.3). This limited sovereignty effectively prevents States from regulating the commercial activities of Native Americans on their reservations (Sierra Project, 2015, p.3). Arguably, reservations reflect LEAPs based on the domains that tribes do have control over. However, the prohibition from entering into “treaties with foreign governments the way a traditional nation would be able to” (Sierra Project, 2015, p.3) limits the use of international trade as a tool for self-determination. LEAP status could assist in overcoming that by providing more levers than a standard FTZ that some tribes have opted for, in their tribal economic development.

In New Zealand, while marae reservations can be set aside for a range of purposes to prevent the land being compulsorily acquired under the Public Works Act 1981,[2] the key point about marae is that it could be possible for them to operate as LEAP connecting points to build a networked reservation that establishes the cultural infrastructure and backbone support for the creation of indigenous LEAPs throughout New Zealand. LEAP status could enhance the function of marae to give them greater alignment to North American reservations by imputing a relational sovereignty for networked members enabling the regeneration of Māori cultural and economic assets. Strengthening cultural identity and enterprise together could as Murphy’s (2014) approach suggests, enhance both the physical and psychological wellbeing of Māori, by addressing social and economic triggers to stress and cultural connectivity. Anecdotally, when people see themselves reflected in their communities as valued members they feel more connected to who they are and where they belong. In addition, implementing LEAPs could help grow the number and range of enterprise and employment opportunities – including roles in the tradable (export) sector, to lift Māori incomes so Māori are accessing a greater proportion of the nation’s prosperity.

A fundamental challenge to achieving special economic status is the racism that persists in New Zealand, including in its institutions.  Any special status sought or granted to its Indigenous Peoples will likely be met with rigorous resistance diminishing the will of politicians to take bold stances to advance the innovation potential of Māori economies and their cultural centres – marae. Often, opponents liken Māori cultural identity to religion and their marae to Churches or Mosques, whom, they will argue should also have access to those same special statuses. However, there is nothing in the idea of LEAPs to preclude those institutions from seeking similar special economic statuses. Additionally, critics of this school of thought should be careful not to conflate Māori identity with religion, and marae with churches, as doing so erases an entire peoples history which comes dangerously close to proposing cultural genocide.

New Zealand has an opportunity to partner with its indigenous communities to identify urban and rural areas that could benefit from special economic status and better understand the kinds of trade policy measures that will accelerate Māori economic development and give effect to the right of its Indigenous Peoples to self-determination to lift the wellbeing outcomes of Māori. The theories offered by Corntassel, Puig, and Murphy provide a basis for developing a uniquely indigenous development model without prescribing its rules, processes or conditions. Moreover, the tripartite of views provides the foundation to access legal frameworks that enable the establishment of zones where cultural resurgence can prosper and produce collective capability. Therefore, LEAPs offer an alternative approach that could support Māori (and other Indigenous Peoples) to continue the innovation legacy their ancestors began more than 6000 years ago when leaving Taiwan.  Should indigenous economies take the LEAP? Simply put, yes.

[1]              The Golden Triangle is ‘the term economic commentators use to describe the geographic area bound up by Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga’ (New Zealand Herald, 2018).

[2]           Section 338, Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993

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Post series: Should indigenous economies take the LEAP? (2)

Members of Te Whānau ā-Apanui at Taiwan Indigenous TV preparing for their appearance on Ui 輕鬆講 (June, 2019) –  a demonstration of the power of everyday acts of resurgence #IndigenousConnections

This section builds on Part 1 of this series to provide a theoretical basis for the final instalment (part 3 – to come).

Self-determination: law or resurgence — or both?

International law promotes the principal of equal treatment and self-determination, which includes peoples’ rights to freely pursue their social, cultural and economic development aspirations. This principle is provided in Articles 1 and 55 of the Charter of the United Nations (the Charter), Article 1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and Article 3 of the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), all of which underscore the intention of member States to uphold that principle. However, for indigenous self-determination, Article 46 in the UNDRIP imposes a restriction on interpretation of the Declaration. This suggests that in signing up to the UNDRIP member states considered recognition of indigenous self-determination as symbolic matter rather than a commitment to actively pursue, consequently locating colonisation as something in the past rather than accepting or acknowledging its ongoing effects (Corntassel, 2012, p.92).

Notably, New Zealand did not officially sign up to the UNDRIP until  2010 – three years after it was introduced and signed by 144 other member states. Interestingly, China voted in support of the UNDRIP despite not recognising Indigenous Peoples in the territories it proclaims sovereignty over, including Taiwan. However, New Zealand was not alone. Neither Canada nor the U.S. signed the UNDRIP at that time. Unsurprisingly then, New Zealand’s action to date parallels the virtue signalling of other members in its non-implementation of any of the articles. And whilst the New Zealand government announced earlier in 2019, its intention to “develop a plan of action to drive and measure New Zealand’s progress towards the aspirations” of UNDRIP (Mahuta, 2019), it framed the articles as aspirations rather than firm commitments, arguably heightening the presumption of symbolism and creating ambiguity around what the resulting action plan will actually do.

Domestically, many Indigenous Peoples entered treaties during the early contact period to preserve their tribal sovereignty, as settler populations and demands on resources grew. In New Zealand, the key instruments were He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni (He Whakaputanga or the Declaration of Independence) and Te Tiriti o Waitangi (Te Tiriti), and in North America the Silver Chain Covenant and the Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation (Jay Treaty). However, these treaties and declarations commonly lacked legal standing later in settler courts attracting rulings that would serve to abrogate their rights for generations to come. For example, in Wi Parata v Bishop of Wellington (1877), the New Zealand Supreme Court declared Te Tiriti a nullity erasing any ability to rely on it against the injustices of the Crown. Similarly, in Francis v the Queen (1956) the Supreme Court of Canada held that the Jay Treaty had no legal effect because it had not been incorporated into domestic legislation. Common across white settler courts was the erosion of Indigenous Peoples rights as settler governments took hold of stolen territories.

Politics of Recognition and International Indigenous Economic Law

As noted in part 1, the question as to whether self-determination of Indigenous Peoples is actionable through international law or law at all, is disputed at length from scholars of both legal and non-legal disciplines. For instance, Jeff Corntassel (2012) rejects the politics of recognition (i.e. legal ot State recognition of indigenous rights) in favour of a “responsibility based ethic grounded in relationships to homelands and community”. He argues this approach avoids the limitations accompanying State recognition (i.e. settler determined findings about Indigenous Peoples) (p.93). Corntassel (2012) insists that Indigenous Peoples do not claim rights, instead they assert responsibilities that are sourced from their relationships with the natural and spiritual worlds and it is through these responsibilities that their rights emerge (p.92). Additionally, Corntassel (2012) considers sustainability an inherent element of indigenous self-determination and that this is achieved through practicing “every day acts of resurgence” (pp.92-93). Ani Mikaere (2011) shares a similar view emphasising that Māori rights as tangata whenua of New Zealand derive from Māori having occupied the lands for generations and “having developed an intimate connection with this environment, and an intricate set of relationships to regulate our place within it” (p.123-146).

So how might we understand indigenous rights to self-determination outside the legal institutions we have become accustomed to?

In the New Zealand context, te kawa o te marae (the protocol of marae) provides a useful example of everyday acts of resurgence with many non-indigenous peoples also understanding and respecting that marae operate according to processes and protocols grounded in a tikanga (values) that governs people’s behaviours and roles on the marae. This is a result of Māori continually practicing their culture, emphasising the importance of cultural maintenance for sustainable indigenous self-determination. It also exemplifies how over time everyday acts can shift mind-sets –  where indigenous rights can be seen as grounded in indigenous relationships to people and place and not as decided in the court room or dictated by the pens of parliament.

In an international trade context, resurgence could be demonstrated through restoring traditional international relations practices too. For instance, the Kaswentha – a treaty agreed between the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (an alliance between the Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Onondaga, and Seneca Nations) in Canada and European settlers during the early 1600s, set out the guiding principles that would govern their relationship amid growing tensions over the fur trade (Philpott, 2019, p.162-63). These principles expressed through the ‘Two-Row Wampum belt’ represented:

…a canoe and a ship travelling down a river side-by-side. The canoe holds the Haudenosaunee peoples, cultures, customs and laws, while the ship houses European settlers and their ways of life. The principles of the Kaswentha provide that the vessels travel together in a spirit of friendship and mutual respect.

(Philpott, 2019, p.162-63)

The Kaswentha illustrates the value traditional customs offer the contemporary international trade framework and the potential to radically shift how nations and peoples engage with each other for economic cooperation. Enabling Indigenous Peoples to introduce these practices as acts of resurgence complements the existing international law framework that is predicated on the promotion of peace and friendly relations between nations (see Art 1, the Charter) while retaining the cultural distinctions of the Indigenous Peoples entering into any negotiations.

Indigenous methods of establishing relationships puts values upfront, bringing the notion of responsibilities to each other and their own values systems to the fore in a humanising and transformative way rather than reducing relationships in trade to mere transactions.

In contrast to Corntassel’s responsibility based ethic that looks away from the law as a source of rights for Indigenous Peoples, Sergio Puig (2019) looks toward international indigenous economic law, as a developing body of work that he considers to operate as a shield and sword for the protection and advancement of indigenous rights, respectively (p.1302-1303). Similar to Corntassel (2012) who differentiates indigenous self-determination (relationships based) from state sovereignty (rights based) (p.92), Puig (2019) distinguishes indigenous rights from human rights, expounding Indigenous Peoples rights as distinctly rooted in unjust political and economic factors resulting from colonisation (p.1245).

Puig’s (2019) way around the over reliance on human rights instruments is to look to international economic treaties (p.1304). For example, he notes how the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade provides a range of exceptions that permit states to impose restrictions on trade, such as taking any necessary measures to protect public morals which operates as a shield for their protection (Puig, 2019, p.1304) . He references the EC-Seal Products case (EC-Seals cited in Puig, 2019), in which the European Union (EU) relied on the public morals clause under Art XX(a) GATT to defend a claim brought against it by Canada and Norway. The dispute concerned the EU Seal Regime that introduced a ban on the import and export of seal products because it discriminated against other indigenous groups and producers of similar products with an exception clause only for the Inuit Peoples of Greenland, for whom seal hunting remains a tradition. Although the WTO Appellate Body upheld that the exception was discriminatory in part because the EU had not made ‘comparable efforts to facilitate the access of the Canadian Inuit to the IC exception as it did with respect to the Greenlandic Inuit’ it considered the EU Seal Regime was necessary to protect public morals but the chapeau requirements were not met. However, as Puig (2019) highlights, the AB left open the ability of the EU to make the exception WTO compliant (p.1304-1305). Canada’s attempt to protect the rights of its Inuit Peoples in this case, is also worth noting, as it adds to the deepening dialogue emerging from States, providing potential geopolitical levers for Indigenous Peoples to draw on.

While Puig (2019) focuses on international economic treaties as a source for change, his argument could equally extend to specific bilateral or multilateral trade agreements where the changes in mandate occur domestically. For example, the Treaty of Waitangi Exception Clause contained in all New Zealand’s contemporary trade agreements acts as a shield to protect Māori treaty rights (MFAT, n.d. a), whereas Chapter 19 of the Agreement between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu on Economic Cooperation (ANZTEC) acts as a sword to advance indigenous to indigenous economic and cultural exchange. Using Puig’s argument in this way also brings the obligations of settler governments within closer proximity to its Indigenous Peoples. This provides a resonance to Corntassel’s responsibility based ethic by centring the communities affected in the agreements made between States. Therefore, these two theories could act as complementaries rather than be cast as antagonists, to enable direct relationships within and between Indigenous Peoples and foreign states by building on apparatuses such as the ANZTEC Chapter 19.

However, adopting international economic law as a basis for protecting and advancing indigenous rights potentially suffers from similar weaknesses to the human rights law approach. That is, the governance and rules still depend on systems and structures that have perpetuated the injustices of settler governments against Indigenous Peoples. Be that as it may, earlier treaties and agreements such as He Whakaputanga, Te Tiriti and the Jay Treaty present clear explications of indigenous ancestors recognising the value of having their rights to their territories and resources confirmed and notified internationally for the ongoing and sustainable benefit of their uri (descendants).

Despite some clear weaknesses to work through, I still consider that international indigenous economic law could provide an enabling function for achieving indigenous rights. Different courts, tribunals and governments have recognised, protected or interpreted indigenous rights and practices in various ways and to variable degrees. However, the growing body of international indigenous economic law in conjunction with a responsibility based ethic grounded in the everyday acts of resurgence we already see, could benefit from an agglomeration effect of sorts.  That is, the growing level of political interest in indigenous rights and the moral capital it attracts could provide a useful lever for Indigenous Peoples to cash in on the political capital that in recent times Canada and New Zealand governments at least, have electorally banked in their favour. Moreover, unlike human rights laws, international economic law has a more practical effect because often there are financial incentives for settler governments to uphold the commitments it makes in them, as well as political incentives, such as avoidance of reputational harm at both the domestic and international level. After all, a government seen to not uphold its economic obligations would struggle to secure the trade benefits it seeks in future trade agreements and could attract legitimate trade restrictions.

References

Agreement between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu on Economic Cooperation 2013.

Charter of the United Nations 1945.

Corntassel, J. (2012). Re-envisioning resurgence: Indigenous pathways to decolonization and sustainable self-determination. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, 1(1), 86-101.

European Communities – Measures Prohibiting the Importation and Marketing of Seal Products (2014, May 22) WT/DS400/AB/R, WT/DS401/AB/R.

Francis v. The Queen [1956] S.C.R. 618.

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1947.

He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni 1835.

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 1966.

Karnuth v. United States, 279 U.S. 231 (1929).

Le Dressay, A., Lavallee, N., and Reeves, J. (2010). First Nations Trade, Specialization, and Market Institutions: A Historical Survey of First Nation Market Culture” Aboriginal Policy Research Consortium International 72. Retrieved from: https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/aprci/72

Mahuta, N. (2019, Apr 7). Indigenous experts advise on Declaration plan. Press Release. The Official Website of the New Zealand Government. Retrieved from: https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/indigenous-experts-advise-declaration-plan

MFAT, (n.d. a) Understanding CPTPP: Protections. Wellington: New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Trade. Retrieved from: https://www.mfat.govt.nz/en/trade/free-trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements-in-force/cptpp/understanding-cptpp/protections

Mikaere, A. (2011). Colonising Myths, Māori Realities. Wellington, New Zealand: Huia Publishers.

Philpott, A. (2019). The ship is not the only vessel on the river: Revisiting first nations’ mobility rights under Article III of the 1794 Jay Treaty. Appeal, 24, 157.

Puig, S. (2019). International Indigenous Economic Law. UC Davis Law Review 52:3, 1243-1316.

Silver Chain Covenant 1600s.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi 1840.

Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation 1764.

United States ex rel. Diabo v. McCandless, 18 F.2d 282 at 283 (D. Pa. 1927).

Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007.

Waitangi Tribunal. (2014). Te Paparahi o Te Raki Inquiry, Wai 1040.

Wi Parata v Bishop of Wellington (1877) 3 NZ Jur (NS) SC 72.

Yablon-Zug, M. (2008). Gone But Not Forgotten: The Strange Afterlife of the Jay Treaty’s Indian Free Passage Right. Queen’s L. J. 33, 565.

Post series: Should indigenous economies take the LEAP? (1)

Austronesian Migration Path: Exhibited at Taoyuan City Indigenous Cultural Centre, Taiwan

[Ellipsister note: aroha mai, I had a meme on here originally but it appears it could be misread or subject to interpretation – and on that basis I removed it]

Recently, I wrote a (relatively) short paper “Should indigenous economies take the LEAP?”. Its purpose was to explore what self-determination could look like in a practical sense. Maybe I’m a bit of an international trade truther or something, but I absolutely believe trade is at the heart of achieving peace and self-determination.

Since I haven’t written here in a while, I figured I would share that paper over three parts: context, theory and application (summarised below), with minor modifications to the original text for easier flow.

Note I explore this topic by way of comparative analysis locating Māori in the Asia Pacific trading picture with their ancestral linkages to Taiwan and their growing connections to North America through forums such as the World Indigenous Business Forum and APEC.

Summary breakdown

Part 1: remembers the past and identifies some of the similarities in pre-contact indigenous trade arrangements to emphasise that international trade and economic development is a traditional activity of Indigenous Peoples.

Part 2: unpacks two theoretical approaches to indigenous self-determination that demonstrates Indigenous Peoples developed their own guiding principles to international trade and that it is possible to restore those practices when construing the theoretical approaches as complementary rather than antagonistic. Here, I compare the different ways Indigenous Peoples entered into agreements to protect their rights – including those to trade, with early settler governments and the legal treatment of those agreements by different courts, tribunals and governments.

Part 3: considers different development models and how they might be used to enhance various indigenous initiatives that are at different stages of development. This part is particularly interested in special jurisdictions known as LEAP (Legal, Economic, Administrative, Political) zones. I suggest that when a LEAP zone is combined with the theoretical approaches to indigenous self-determination, it offers a creative, practical and culturally relevant approach that reflects traditional forms of development adapted to modern contexts.

As one might expect, the most useful place to start then is the beginning.

Introduction

Indigenous economic and trade development existed and prospered before colonisation and continued into the early contact period (Petrie, 2002; Philpott, 2019; Puig, 2019; Bellwood, Hung & lizuka, 2011) and many of these economies are still recovering from the destruction inflicted through colonisation. However, as indigenous economies experience greater resurgence, international trade becomes an increasingly important economic lever to support the sustainable economic development of their tribes. In New Zealand, trade accounts for around 60 per cent of our economic activity and connects businesses to new markets to help them grow their customer base and explore new technologies (MFAT, n.d. c). The tradable sector also provides employment benefits and pays significantly higher than the non-tradable sector across the employment pipeline (NZIER, 2017). As such, trade has both direct and indirect benefits for whānau (family). However, domestic marginalisation of indigenous economies can create barriers for indigenous enterprises to enter international markets (Puig, 2019). I argue that indigenous self-determination could play a critical role in transforming tribal economies (Cornell & Kalt, 2000) and could improve the physical and psychological wellbeing of Indigenous Peoples (Murphy, 2014). To support that proposition we need policy innovation to support Indigenous Peoples to participate in international trade activities by introducing regional initiatives possessing the potential to un-restrict market access to accelerate indigenous economic development opportunities.

Remembering the past

Indigenous Peoples of the Asia Pacific region have their roots in Taiwan (Ko et al., 2014). One of the most widely accepted connections of this common whakapapa (genealogies) is their shared linguistic heritages revealing that Austronesian languages, originating in Taiwan, have the largest geographical spread of any language family in the world (Ko et al., 2014; Terell, 2004; Crowley, 2006; Huang & Liu, 2016). This language migration demonstrates that over many generations (between 5000-6000 years ago), the Austronesian speaking ancestors of Māori made sea voyages across Asia and eventually down into the South Pacific (Ko et al., 2014; Terell, 2004; Crowley, 2006; Bellwood, Fox & Tryon, 2006). During those voyages and explorations, Bellwood et al (2006) describe these Austronesian ancestors as having “fissioned and diversified in complex ways” (p.2) birthing new cultures, shaping traditions and adapting to new environments (Crowley, 2006; Terell, 2004).

When Māori ancestors arrived and settled New Zealand around 800-1000 years ago they carried their economies with them (King, 2003 cited in Te Puni Kōkiri, 2007). During this period, coastal and inland hapū exchanged items of abundance in their localities, for instance, fish from the coast for birds from the forest (O’Malley & Hutton, 2007). Māori also engaged in trade, formed alliances, and established the earliest enterprises in New Zealand (Te Puni Kōkiri, 2007). During the early encounters, Māori were already navigating offshore to trade with the Pacific Islands, Australia, North and South America, Asia and Europe where they were exposed to new technological developments and economic systems (Petrie, 2002, p.2). Before that, their Austronesian ancestors from Taiwan had been trading goods such as jade products by sea from Taiwan into the Philippines (Bellwood et al., 2011, p.31). Similarly, North American First Nations were specialising in fishing and seal fur trade, facilitating intertribal trade and establishing trade routes such as the Oolichan grease trails that later became a primary fur-trade route (Le Dressay Lavallee & Reeves, 2010, p.117). Further South, Native Americans were connected across the U.S. with pipestone artefacts, native to Minnesota, found as distant as Kansas and Ohio (Le Dressay et al., 2010, pp.117-118).

Adding to the vibrant trade picture is evidence of trade between Mayan and Inca civilisations who built and patrolled some of the earliest trade infrastructure (Le Dressay et al., 2010, pp.117-118).

Accordingly, indigenous economies and trade networks were thriving in their own right and Indigenous Peoples were adapting to new technologies through increased encounters with other nations who brought with them new goods and materials (Petrie, 2002; Philpott, 2019; Le Dressay et al, 2010). Speculation that indigenous economies were undeveloped and incapable of innovation is unfounded and belies a history that tells a different story (Petrie, 2002).

Toward theories of self-determination

The question as to whether self-determination of Indigenous Peoples is actionable through international law or law at all, is disputed at length from scholars of both legal and non-legal disciplines. Political posturing, virtual signalling and strict or questionable legal interpretations typically underpin criticisms of the politics of recognition, that is, attempts to locate indigenous self-determination in State recognition of it through international human rights law (Corntassel, 2012, p.92). Those supportive of legal recognition approaches tend to view legal avenues as the most practical way to seek justice and achieve certainty of rights. Whereas opponents typically possess low trust in these institutions considering it a vulgarity to rely on settler developed norms and institutions as the source of Indigenous Peoples rights (Corntassel, 2012). And as courts and tribunals have demonstrated time and again rulings can be overturned, and governments have shown they can also be legislated over (e.g. Puig, 2019; Yablon-Zug, 2008), which can work either in favour of or in opposition to indigenous rights.

Part 2 to follow

References

Bellwood, P., Hung, H-C. & lizuka, Y. (2011) Taiwan Jade in the Philippines: 3,000 Years of Trade and Long-distance Interaction, in Purissima Benitez-Johannot (ed.), Paths of Origins: The Austronesian Heritage in the Collections of the National Museum of the Philippines,the Museum Nasional Indonesia,and the Netherlands Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde, Singapore: ArtPostAsia. Retrieved from: http://www.earth.sinica.edu.tw/~epma/papers/…/A14%20PathsofOrigins_pp30-41_2011.pdf

Bellwood, P; Fox, J.J & Tryon, D. (2006). The Austronesians in History: Common Origins and Diverse Transformations in Bellwood, P; Fox, J.J & Tryon, D. (eds.) The Austronesians: Historical and Comparative Perspectives. ANU Press. Retrieved from: https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2jbjx1.4

Consedine, B. (2007). Historical Influences and the Māori Economy. Wellington: Te Puni Kōkiri.

Corntassel, J. (2012). Re-envisioning resurgence: Indigenous pathways to decolonization and sustainable self-determination. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, 1(1), 86-101.

Crowley, T. (2006) Austronesian languages: overview.  Encyclopedia of language & linguistics. Oxford: Elsevier, 600–609.

King, Michael. (2003). The Penguin History of New Zealand. Auckland. Penguin Books Ltd.

Le Dressay, A., Lavallee, N., and Reeves, J. (2010). First Nations Trade, Specialization, and Market Institutions: A Historical Survey of First Nation Market Culture” Aboriginal Policy Research Consortium International 72. Retrieved from: https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/aprci/72

MFAT. (n.d. b). The Māori Economy. Trade for All Agenda. Wellington: New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Trade. Retrieved from: https://www.mfat.govt.nz/en/trade/nz-trade-policy/trade-for-all-agenda/

MFAT. (n.d. c). Trade and Regional Economic Development. Trade for All Agenda. Wellington: New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Trade. Retrieved from: https://www.mfat.govt.nz/en/trade/nz-trade-policy/trade-for-all-agenda/

Murphy, M. (2014). Self-Determination as Collective Capability: The Case of Indigenous Peoples. Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 15(4), 320-334.

NZIER, (2017). Benefits of Trade: Report for Export New Zealand. Wellington: New Zealand Institute for Economic Research. Retrieved from: https://nzier.org.nz/publication/the-benefits-of-trade

O’Malley, V. and Hutton, (2007). The Nature and Extent of Contact and Adaptation in Northland, c.1769-1840. Report commissioned by the Crown Forestry Rental Trust, 1.

Petrie, H. (2002) Colonisation and the Involution of the Maori Economy. A paper for Session 24 XIII World Congress of Economic History. Buenos Aires.

Philpott, A. (2019). The ship is not the only vessel on the river: Revisiting first nations’ mobility rights under Article III of the 1794 Jay Treaty. Appeal, 24, 157.

Puig, S. (2019). International Indigenous Economic Law. UC Davis Law Review 52:3, 1243-1316.

Terrell J. (2004). Introduction: ‘Austronesia’ and the great Austronesian migration. World Archaeology, 36(4), 586-590.

Yablon-Zug, M. (2008). Gone But Not Forgotten: The Strange Afterlife of the Jay Treaty’s Indian Free Passage Right. Queen’s L. J. 33, 565.