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“Biggest Single Boost To Nelson/Marlborough"

Friday 11 August 2000 For Immediate Use


“Unlocking Mäori fisheries assets held in trust by the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission would be the biggest single boost the Government could give to the Nelson/Marlborough economy,” Harry Mikaere, Chairman of the Treaty Tribes Coalition, said in Nelson today.

“Allocation would deliver around $99 million to the South Island and add around $279,000 a month to the mainland economy,” he said.

“Nelson, as New Zealand’s seafood capital, would obviously benefit significantly. The local seafood industry could employ even more people and add even more to the regional economy.

“Until allocation happens, between a third and a half of Nelson’s most important industry will remain stuck in an annual leasing round that is preventing the industry from planning ahead and delivering the maximum value to the country.”

Mr Mikaere said that once allocation happened, iwi from throughout the country could form long-term partnerships with one another and with the Nelson seafood industry.

“With that certainty, you’d see greater investment throughout the value chain, from research and development, through to fishing and processing, through to international marketing.

“Perhaps most importantly, you’d see investment in aquaculture, the leading edge of the industry,” Mr Mikaere, who is also one of New Zealand’s leading mussel farmers, said.
“There is no way any of that can happen until the Government fixes the law to direct allocation.”

Mr Mikaere’s visit to Nelson was the final stop in a tour of South Island regional centres to raise awareness of the costs of delaying allocation of the assets.

Allocation is being held up by the technical legal challenges of a few individuals, despite 76 percent of iwi representing 63 percent of Mäori agreeing on a compromise model for allocation two years ago. Unless the Government fixes the law, litigation will continue for at least five more years, if not forever. Government legislation would end the litigation and could not be challenged in the courts.

“We began our campaign here in Nelson nearly three months ago during Seafood Week, when we released the study by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research that showed delaying allocation was costing New Zealand $1 million a month.

“Since then, nearly $3 million has been lost to the industry.

“During Seafood Week, we were supported unanimously by the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council and by key opposition parties. We have subsequently achieved the support of regional leaders throughout the country.

“We are back in Nelson to say thank you for that support and to signal we are not prepared to wait much longer for the Government to act.

“The Minister of Mäori Affairs says he will make progress on the issue by the end of this month. We will hold him to that,” Mr Mikaere concluded.


The Treaty Tribes Coalition was established in 1994 and has the support of more than 25 iwi.

The Coalition is seeking the implementation of the “optimum allocation model” that was developed by the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission through a five-year consultation process. At the conclusion of that consultation process two years ago, the model achieved the support of 76 percent of iwi representing 63 percent of Mäori.

The model deals with $350 million of “pre-settlement” fisheries assets, which have been held in trust by the commission since 1989. The commission has also held a further $350 million of “post-settlement” assets since 1992.

The model was a compromise between those iwi that believed assets should be allocated on the basis of coastline and those that believed they should be allocated on the basis of population.

Deep-sea quota would be allocated on a 50 percent population, 50 percent coastline basis. Inshore quota would be allocated on a coastline basis. Shares in Moana Pacific Fisheries would be allocated in proportion to the entire quota volume allocated to each iwi. A further $40 million cash would be allocated on the basis of population only, with another $10 million cash kept in trust for those Mäori who are not active members of their iwi organisations. The model also requires that iwi have mandate and accountability mechanisms to deliver to their members, the vast majority of whom are urban residents.

Despite the majority support for the compromise model, allocation is being held up by technical legal challenges by a few individuals. None of these challenges have been found to have merit by the courts, but appeals continue.

In May, the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) undertook an independent and conservative study into the costs of delaying allocation of the “pre-settlement” assets. Looking at just three costs of delay, including the inability of iwi to form multi-iwi partnerships, it concluded the costs were up to $14 million a year. This would compound to $84 million by 2006 if allocation did not occur immediately.

Following the release of the report, the Treaty Tribes Coalition renewed its call for the Government to fix the law to end the technical legal wrangling. The call was supported unanimously by the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council (SeaFIC) at its annual conference in Nelson and by New Zealand’s biggest fisheries company, Sanford Ltd.


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