Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Greedy Bird Catches Te Worm?

The word from te marae is that Te Bro Nation is negotiating with the govt for a slice of hundreds of millions of dollars' of radio spectrum.
Back in Nov.2012, maori claimants planned to reactivate a 2009 Waitangi Tribunal for a portion of the country's "digital dividend" spectrum, but that was put on hold. Instead, in behind closed doors they go, closeted with the National govt.
Communications Minister Amy Adams won't confirm these talks are actually taking place but says that the govt has engaged with a number of parties, including Maori spectrum claimants, over the past few years. Proposals regarding the spectrum are currently before Cabinet and announcements will follow in due course.
Successive govts have rejected the bro suggestion that radio spectrum is "taonga". After all, radio was not even  invented when Rangi was roaming Noo Zild in grass skirt, wiping out moa and moriori. And anyway, what precisely IS taonga? Well, I'm glad you asked. Wikipedia (the font of all highly accurate information... ahem...) says that a taonga in maori culture is a treasured thing, whether tangible or intangible. Tangible examples are all sorts of heirlooms and artefacts, land, fisheries, natural resources such as geothermal springs and access to natural resources. Intangible examples may include language, spiritual beliefs and...wait for it! frequencies! (One must of course remember that Wikipedia info can be supplied by ANYone with ANY vested interest of ANY sort, and thus should be treated with a certain amount of caution).
Part of the current problem is that back in 2000, the then Labour govt set a precedent by giving iwi cash and the right to purchase some 3G spectrum at a discount. Gee. Great. Thanks for that.
The govt had originally hoped to allocate licences for the radio spectrum by the end of last year. However, it's yet to announce the spectrum allocation rules. The spectrum will be used by telcos to support 4G mobile networks. Vodafone NZ has said the deployment of 4G could be delayed if the spectrum isn't allocated by April.
And now...drumroll!'s the rub: the spectrum will be worth at least several hundred million dollars, if it sold for the per capita going rate established by similar auctions overseas.
So just to clarify once and for all, the bro negotiations are not in any way to protect's to greedily grab a slice of the pie that should be for all NZers, regardless of skin colour or ethnicity. If Te Bro Nation wants its own piece of the pie, it can bid for it like all other major players, using dosh from its Te Tiriti slush-fund.
Let's not dress this up as any sort of taonga protection, puh-leez!

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