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Osgoode Speaker Series: Amokura Kawharu

Date: 22-Jan-2020
Time: 12:30 PM - 02:30 PM
Location: 2027
Link: RSVP


Indigenous Reconciliation and the New Constitution of International Trade

A “Treaty of Waitangi” exception (Treaty Exception) is now included in each of New Zealand’s free trade agreements (FTAs). The Treaty Exception is intended to enable the New Zealand Government to enact measures in order to give effect to its obligations to Māori under the Treaty of Waitangi, even if the measures are inconsistent with an obligation assumed by New Zealand under the FTA. However, Māori have questioned the adequacy of the Treaty Exception in light of the increasing depth and scale of New Zealand’s participation in FTAs, especially its expanding commitments to protect foreign investment. The Government’s processes for involving Māori in the development of New Zealand’s approaches to FTAs are deeply flawed. Its failure to ensure that the drafting of the Treaty Exception keeps pace with changes in New Zealand’s FTA practice is one consequence of this issue. The possible solutions for remedying the problems in the text of the Treaty Exception need to be developed in partnership with Māori, as part of a wider strategy to better engage with Māori in the development of New Zealand’s trade law and policy.

Amokura Kawharu is an Associate Professor at Auckland Law School and holds a BA/LLB(Hons) from Auckland University and an LLM with a major in international law from the University of Cambridge. She became member of Auckland Law Faculty's academic staff in 2005 after working for several years in private commercial law practice in Auckland and in Sydney. Her research interests include international trade and investment, arbitration and international disputes resolution. She has published widely in these fields, including as co-author of the leading New Zealand treatise on arbitration law, Williams & Kawharu on Arbitration (2nd ed, LexisNexis, 2017). Amokura serves on the board of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, New Zealand’s Māori Research Centre of Excellence, and was the Māori Member of the University of Auckland’s governing council between 2016-2019. She has also recently participated as a member of the New Zealand Government’s Trade for All advisory board, and as independent expert to the Waitangi Tribunal in its inquiry into the impacts of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement on indigenous rights in New Zealand.