• Maurice Williamson

The $15 million increase in funding for Maori language and culture is not in any way linked to the 2GHz spectrum auction, Communications Minister Maurice Williamson said today.

"As Maori Affairs Minister Tau Henare has said, this money is committed solely to meet our obligations to protect the Maori language and is completely separate from the spectrum issue."

"For many years the courts have been directing the Government regarding our broadcasting obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi. We've made a number of commitments in this area over the last nine years including:

* The reservation of AM/FM and UHF television spectrum * The setting up of the dedicated Maori broadcasting funding agency, Te Mangai Paho * Provision of $11 million for the establishment of a Maori Television channel

"Mr Henare and I have worked hard on meeting the requirements of successive court rulings and Tribunal recommendations on the Government's obligations in relation to Maori language and culture. Mr Henare's announcement reflects the Government's concern and commitment on this issue. It's a culmination of many months of work."

"This announcement is in no way linked to the spectrum auction. It involves new money which is not conditional on other issues. Cabinet has not yet taken a decision on the Waitangi Tribunal recommendation in relation to the spectrum. The Government will consider this issue in the near future at which time I will announce the decision.