Maori to New Zealand: We Own the Radio Waves
Claim by indigenous people might delay rollout of 4G
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 17, 2013 6:12 PM CDT
A traditional Maori welcome ceremony is performed in Auckland, New Zealand.   (AP Photo/NZPA, David Rowland)

(Newser) – New Zealand hopes to roll out 4G technology across the nation this fall, but an unusual legal dispute is threatening to force a long delay: The indigenous Maori tribes have claimed ownership of New Zealand's radio waves, reports the Wall Street Journal. If the claim is true, that means the government has no authority to auction off spectrum necessary for the upgrade.

The Maori base their case on a treaty in which the government gave them the rights to "taonga"—loosely defined as treasure. That treaty, however, was signed in 1840, long before anyone even thought of something called a radio. "The government doesn't accept that radio spectrum is a taonga," says a government official. But the Journal quotes a legal expert on the treaty who says 4G might have to wait another year because of the fight.

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Showing 3 of 12 comments
Jul 19, 2013 11:28 AM CDT
The absurd left-wing ideology infects NZ too. The Maoris received civilization from the West. Like the Amerindians, they should receive no special privileges - just the wonder privileges of living in a modern world. Would the Maoris have any mobile phones without the West? Any phones at all? Instead of appreciating the West, they demand more. In America, we should take away casinos for Amerindians. And all born in the US should be called native Americans, not limiting the phrase to descendents of stone-age indigenous people. NZ should move ahead to progress, and ignore the claims of their stone-age groups.
Jul 18, 2013 10:36 AM CDT
When I read reports (or in Newser's case, summaries other people's reports) about Australia or NZ, I can't help but laugh at the ignorance and insularity. You're allowed to tell people what the treaty is called, John. That would perhaps spur someone to learn more...and certainly would fit the laughable 'read less, know more' bullshit motto. You are also allowed to say 'Maoris' in common parlance. I bet every ex-pat Kiwi or Aussie who read your headline thought it was one guy.
Jul 18, 2013 2:46 AM CDT
New Zealand wants to auction off the rights, so they have value. Sounds like treasure to me. Just because radio wasn't discovered in 1840 shouldn't make a difference. What if this was a dispute over a natural resource like a gold mine that wasn't discovered in 1840? Gold is obviously treasure. Isn't the point of this treaty that when treasure is uncovered (discovered), it belongs to the Maoris?