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More Fisheries Assets Transferred To Iwi

5 October 2005

More Fisheries Assets Transferred To Iwi In Time For New Fisheries Season

The Maori Fisheries Trust, Te Ohu Kaimoana, said today it had transferred fisheries settlement assets to four more iwi before 30 September 2005. These are Te Aitanga a Mahaki, in Gisborne, Ngati Rarua, South Island, and the two iwi on the Chatham Islands - Ngati Mutunga o Wharekauri and Moriori.

The transfer of these assets comes soon after it was announced that Ngapuhi in Northland was the first iwi to become a Mandated Iwi Organisation or MIO under the Maori Fisheries Act 2004 and received the greater share of their assets. Whaingaroa in Northland also received a substantial part of their assets last week.

"This means that six iwi have now received a share of the Maori Fisheries settlement assets in time for the 1 October fishing year," Te Ohu Kaimoana chief executive Peter Douglas said today.

The two iwi on the Chatham Islands have received all of their entitlement because they reached agreement over boundaries, while the others would receive their full entitlement once boundary agreements were completed with adjacent iwi.

Inshore, harbour, remaining deepwater and freshwater fishstocks would be allocated once agreements had been reached with adjacent iwi. This can occur when those adjacent iwi have also been recognised as MIOs.

"It is the desire of Te Ohu Kaimoana to see that these assets are in iwi hands as soon as is practically possible. Our people are doing all they can to work with iwi around the country to ensure they meet the Act's requirements in the shortest timeframe," Mr Douglas said.

He added that the iwi mandating process that was laid down in the Maori Fisheries Act was stringent, but he believed Te Ohu Kaimoana was on track to complete allocation to all iwi by 2010.

Te Aitanga a Mahaki trustee Bill Ruru said the completion of the iwi's constitutions and registers, as well as the transfer of fisheries assets to it, received support from 99 percent of the iwi's members. "We needed 75 percent support from our iwi to progress the transfer of our fishing quota from Te Ohu Kaimoana. To get 99 percent was overwhelming and we received ballot papers from members all around New Zealand and overseas. It was a great result for the team's hard work and it means that we are one of the first iwi in New Zealand to receive our fisheries assets."

To reach this historic milestone, the iwi had met the stringent requirements in the Maori Fisheries Act 2004, he said. "It meant proving that our election process was fair and inclusive, our structures were robust and transparent, and that the constitutions were sound. We made several improvements to our Deed of Trust to meet the requirements of the Act and managed to keep the essence of Mahaki tikanga."

The Chief Executive of the Hokotehi Moriori Trust on the Chatham Islands, Leo Watson, said receipt of the fisheries settlement assets represented a new era in the involvement of iwi in Chatham Island fisheries management.

"The Hokotehi Moriori Trust is excited at the prospect of exercising tino rangatiratanga over fisheries assets - for the benefit of the island fishing economy and the sustainability of the resources themselves."

He said the settlement was, in essence, recognition of the rights lost through the introduction of the Quota Management System, a system that has had detrimental effects on the island's fishing industry. "Moriori are looking forward to working constructively with Ngati Mutunga on fishing initiatives on the island, and showing some real leadership to face the ongoing challenges in the industry."

Phil Seymour, the chairperson of Ngati Mutunga o Wharekauri Trust, said "while the assets received under the fisheries settlement will never fully compensate for what was lost by Ngati Mutunga o Wharekauri, they provide a valuable development opportunity that will benefit both future generations of Ngati Mutunga o Wharekauri and the Chatham Islands as a whole".

The general manager of Ngati Rarua Iwi Trust, Rayma-Lee Katu, said receipt of the assets was a historic moment for the iwi. "It has been quite a process to date, but we are happy to have passed the first hurdle and received assets for our Iwi. Ngati Rarua has not received all their entitlement, as we need to sort the coastline, but believe this is an historic occasion for iwi."

In the last few weeks, assets estimated to be valued at almost $100 million have been transferred to iwi with this latest transfer being $30.6 million.

ENDS

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