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From The Treaty Of Waitangi Fisheries Commission

MEDIACOM-RELEASE-

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE TREATY OF WAITANGI FISHERIES COMMISSION

The Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission says today's Court of Appeal decision affirms the fundamental aspects of the Commission's allocation proposal.

The Court was asked to determine whether the Commission, Te Ohu Kai Moana, should allocate fisheries assets solely to "Iwi" or bodies representing Iwi and, if so, whether Iwi meant "traditional tribe".

In a majority three-to-two decision this morning, the Court of Appeal answered "yes" to each question.

Te Ohu Kai Moana has spent nine years devising a strategy to allocate fishing assets to Maori. The assets, now worth around $500 million, were handed to Maori to settle Treaty of Waitangi grievances against the Crown.

In the judgment, the Court said: "The settlement was of the historical grievances of a tribal people. It ought to be implemented in a manner consistent with that fact. With all due respect to UMA, who are formed on the basis of kaupapa not whakapapa, they cannot fulfil such a role."

Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commissioner Whaimutu Dewes said that today's decision confirms Te Ohu Kai Moana is obliged to allocate to traditional Iwi groups. "In coming to its decision, the Court affirms Te Ohu Kai Moana's view that grievances are tribal and therefore allocation of the Pre-Settlement Assets should be to tribes."

Pre-Settlement Assets consist of fishing quota, shares and cash. Post-Settlement Assets include the half share in Sealords, that 20 percent of all new fish species brought into the Quota Management System be given to Maori and cash and are to be allocated after the Pre-Settlement Assets via a new Maori Fisheries Act to be written by the Commission.

"Te Ohu Kai Moana's Optimum Method for Allocation has made provision for all Maori, including urban Maori. They can benefit from this through their Iwi, as well as the Development Putea, which is a contestable fund of about $10 million," Mr Dewes said.

The model also requires each Iwi to have clear constitutional and accountability structures to ensure benefits reach all members of their Iwi. For those people who have difficulty finding their Iwi, they can contact the Commission's Iwi Helpline 0800 11 97 22.

In today's judgment, the Court also said it would be in the interest of Maoridom to concentrate on framing a scheme that would appropriately deliver the benefits to the ultimate beneficiaries, rather than fighting for a position in the administration of the assets.

The two dissenting judges agreed that Iwi meant traditional tribe but did not believe a judgment was necessary on this point. The legislation gave Te Ohu Kai Moana the power to allocate Pre- Settlement Assets to any grouping it wished, and that it was not legally bound to allocate solely to Iwi. However, the judges did not state that the Commission should allocate those assets to Urban Maori Authorities.

They also said that while the original intent of the 1992 Hui-a- tau (annual meeting) was that Pre-Settlement Assets should be allocated to traditional tribes, this did not restrict the Commission's allocation discretion.

Mr Dewes said the dissenting judges emphasised it was the Commission's responsibility to ensure that allocation was ultimately for the benefit of all Maori. "Our allocation model benefits all Maori ? through Iwi, through benefits, grants, scholarships through the Development Putea.

"The challenge now lies with all groups that took the appeal to accept the court's findings and move on," Mr Dewes said.

ENDS....

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