• Maurice Williamson

Communications Minister Maurice Williamson today announced that the auction of radio frequencies in the 2GHz band would begin on Monday November 15, 1999, without spectrum being set aside for Maori.

"We deferred the auction in March because a claim had been made to the Waitangi Tribunal that Maori were entitled to a share of the radio spectrum, including the 2GHz band," said Mr Williamson.

"The Government decided to defer the auction until we had considered the Tribunal findings and recommendations on the matter."

The Tribunal's final report was released in July this year and included a dissenting judgement on key issues in the claim.

"After carefully considering the report, the Government has rejected the Tribunal's recommendation that the Crown suspend the proposed auction until such time as it has negotiated with Maori to reserve a fair and equitable portion of the frequencies for Maori," said Mr Williamson.

"The Government does not believe that the Treaty requires this. We do not accept that electromagnetic spectrum was known of in 1840. It is difficult to argue that the spectrum was a taonga (treasure) at the time. The advice to Ministers was that the spectrum is not subject to the Treaty. Accordingly, the auction will now proceed as originally planned."