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Speech to Open Māori Fisheries Conference

Speech to Open Māori Fisheries Conference by
Jamie Tuuta, Chairman, Te Ohu Kaimoana

Novotel Hotel, Auckland International Airport, 30 March 2016

Kia ora Tatou. It is my pleasure to welcome you to this year’s Māori Fisheries Conference.

This year our theme is Our Story, Our Values: promoting Māori provenance. We have put together a series of presentations that we think explore this theme in a variety of ways.

Today’s event would not be able to be held if it wasn’t for our generous sponsors. Aotearoa Fisheries and Sealord continue to be our principal sponsors and that’s highly appropriate. Westpac has joined us again – for the second year as a major sponsor. They have a strong relationship with both Te Ohu Kaimoana and the other Māori Fisheries Settlement entities.

I also thank our other sponsors – Wai Māori Trust, Oceanlaw, Kahui Legal, Hawke’s Bay Seafoods, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahungunu, Tohu Wines, Tutu Cider, Cloudy Bay Clams, and Ngāi Tahu Seafood.

Before we begin today, I want to say a few words about the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary. It is important to let you all know exactly where Te Ohu Kaimoana stands on this, in light of our recent High Court action against the Crown.

The proposed Kermadec Sanctuary is our far north territory – close to the exclusive economic zones of Tonga and Fiji.

It covers a fishing area of 620,000 square kilometres. an area twice the size of the land mass of New Zealand and 15 percent of our Exclusive Economic Zone.

The Sanctuary will prohibit all forms of commercial fishing throughout its area. Current regulations and legislation already protect the biodiversity of that environment.

There are marine reserves around every island out to 12 nautical miles. You can see on those reserves in this slide. There is no fishing or mining there.

As an industry, we have protected the biodiversity of that environment.

Te Ohu Kaimoana and industry devised a Benthic Protection Regime for the entire area in 2007. This B.P.A. was implemented through Government regulations. The size of that B.P.A. is represented here on the screen.

NO bottom trawling. Fully protected from fishing. The benthic protection areas are like our country’s national parks at sea.


The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary will extinguish iwi rights – both commercial and non-commercial – in FMA10. Almost two weeks ago, Te Ohu Kaimoana begun legal action to protect iwi fishing rights.

The no-take sanctuary is in direct contradiction to the crown’s duties and obligations to actively protect the settlement under its treaty responsibilities.


The Māori Fisheries Settlement has become part of the Māori Constitution. If it’s worth anything at all, it’s worth us fighting to retain our rights.

Recognition of Māori Fishing Rights were hard won by Māori leaders, most of whom are not with us today. They have passed on – Matiu Rata, Sir Robert Mahuta, Dame Mira Szasy and others. The Māori Fisheries Settlement was their legacy.

Sir Graham Latimer and Sir Tipene O’Regan were two of the driving forces behind the Settlement.

We owe it to them to protect what they fought for. We owe it to our future generations of Māori to do that.

Sir Tipene gave an interview on Waatea Radio last week. it is well worth listening to if you find the time.

He noted that the unilateral expropriation of Māori rights, lack of discussion and consultation with rights holders is reminiscent of 19th century colonialism. He further noted the Waste Lands Act 150 years ago which confiscated Māori land that was left idle and unused because it wasn’t being farmed, was an historical example of what Minister Smith is now saying about our perpetual fishing rights.

An analogy today would be if someone owned a vacant lot in central Auckland, left unused and not built on, and the Government came along and said, ‘You haven’t used it, so we’re taking it for the Auckland housing crisis’.

The Government has told the public that value of the quota rights held by commercial interests are less than $200,000 per annum or 0.1 percent of the total catch from within the exclusive economic zone. and nick smith says that gives him the right to expropriate those rights.

This government has failed to recognise the developmental potential of the QMS and non-QMA fisheries that can be caught in Fisheries Management Area 10. They fail to discuss the long-term value in that context.

Previous administrations did recognise that there was this potential for Māori and New Zealand. They recognised development would take time and policies and legislation allowed for it.


Let’s not forget how these sanctuary proposals came about.

An environmental group in the united states, the pew foundation, which has wealth beyond that of small island nations, first proposed turning the Kermadec region into a no-take marine protected area about four years ago.

They produced expensive publications, paid marine biologists and scientists to speak in favour of it, engaged high level lobbyists to convince the government to implement it. the almost wrote the cabinet paper.

Our rights cannot be summarily dismissed to suit the whims of the pew foundation or any other foreign, non-government organisation with their own agenda for that matter.

We do not accept that any foreign N.G.O. should dictate to our Government for the repudiation of inter-generational Māori rights to fisheries.


All iwi have fishing rights in Quota Management Areas in the Kermadec Region – the Māori Fisheries Act allocated all highly migratory species quota based on population and the same will apply to QMA10 fishstocks once they are proved up commercially.

Te Ohu Kaimoana is grateful for the clarification by Te Aupouri that they also recognise that all iwi have rights in the wider Kermadec region. They are comfortable with their decision to support the sanctuary but acknowledge it is up to other iwi to make their own decisions.

What iwi are missing out on are the rights to catch the highly migratory species – the tunas – yellow fin, big eye, southern blue fin during the four months of the year that they are in the Kermadec zone – they aren’t anywhere else in the rest of our EEZ during that time.

Other species which might be developed and commercially exploited in time. What might that look like and how much might that be worth? Te Ohu Kaimoana is working on that at this moment. We are developing what the future fishery could look like for all iwi. I can tell you now, it looks like a lot more than $200,000 worth of fishing.


Before i finish, I want to briefly address the regional pacific context of what the government is ignoring with the Kermadec sanctuary.

One of the reasons that the fishing industry has not been fishing the area more intensely is because of the fierce competition that we face for these highly migratory species.

Make no mistake – we would be there if it made economic sense now – and we want to be in there in the future.

We have discussed this issue with the government over many years.

Throughout the season, fishing just outside Quota Management Area 10, the Kermadec fishery, is around two hundred and twenty large foreign fishing vessels. Not all at the same time, but during the fishing season.

This high seas area is known as Number 17 by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, which administers tuna fishing in the Pacific.

It is the most heavily fished of all high seas areas south of the equator.

Most of this fishing is quite legal, regulated, reported. Some of it is not. Some of it is IUU fishing – illegal, unregulated and unreported.

These vessels are fishing right on the border of the Kermadec fishery.

This shows you the level of activity occurring just outside the Kermadec zone. These are GPS coordinates from vessel monitoring systems. Around four years ago, approximately 16,000 long-line vessel days were recorded in the area. It is slowly being reduced, but not by much.

Sometimes the vessels steam through our region to the east to target the fish that on the other size of the Kermadec EEZ. It is estimated that between 15,000 and 20,000 tonnes of tuna is being taken from this region (area 17) each year.

Valued at around three thousand five hundred (3500) us dollars a tonne, that’s an annual revenue of between 52 and 70 million us dollars each year.

This ring of fire is strangling the flow of these fish species to our zone and forcing us out. Internationally New Zealand and other nations are working to reduce the catches of these fish to within sustainable limits – the significant catch reductions will require large reductions in effort – including in this area.

It will take time but, as with other fisheries, these will recover. The whole international community will benefit from that – for us, it may be our children or grandchildren that benefit from this. we are happy to work for long-term results – the settlement is inter-generational.

With this sanctuary the government is now making sure that we’ll never have the opportunity to compete, even when international efforts succeed.

Government policy is reducing New Zealand to a mainland coastal fishery only.


The Kermadec proposal is not as simple as the government makes out. Māori have rights; the industry has rights. in this day and age, making policy on the hoof without the inclusion of rights-holders is short-term thinking.

We need to protect the Kermadecs – we have measures in place to do that. we are open to discussion about some change but don’t accept outright and permanent prohibition.

I’m encouraged by the recent statement from Riki Witana at Te Aupouri. this doesn’t have to be one or the other – a sanctuary or Māori fishing rights. it can be both.

Te Ohu Kaimoana wishes you an enjoyable and entertaining conference. Thank you


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