July 15, 2013
Tribunal reopens spectrum claim
The Waitangi Tribunal is moving to hear an urgent claim that could stymie the sale of 4G radio spectrum.
The Government wants to sell off management rights to spectrum freed up by the switch to digital television.
The 700 megahertz band is suitable for the next generation of mobile data networks, but there is considerable debate about how it should be packaged up and sold.
However, Communications Minister Amy Adams has already made the decision that unlike previous auctions, there will be no blocks set aside for Māori.
The claimants are Professor Whatarangi Winiata on behalf of the New Zealand Māori Council, Huirangi Waikerepuru from Ngā Kaiwhakapumau I te Reo Māori and Graeme Everton on behalf of WAI 776 claimants.
They say the Crown can’t use its right of kāwanatanga to convert access to radio spectrum frequencies into private property rights.
That ignores the Māori rangatiratanga right to own and manage the resource.
They’re asking for the auction to be held off until Māori are allocated a fair share of the spectrum and a plan is negotiated between the Claimants and the Crown covering future spectrum auctions.
The tribunal has given the task of hearing the claim to Māori Land Court Judge Patrick Savage assisted by Professor Sir Hirini Mead and Tim Castle.
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