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Maori Fisheries Bill: More Litigation Ahead

Maori Fisheries Bill: More Litigation Ahead

Monday 2 Aug 2004 Ken Shirley Press Releases -- Treaty of Waitangi & Maori Affairs

ACT New Zealand Fisheries and Other Sea-related Select Committee member Ken Shirley today predicted that the Labour Government's Maori Fisheries Bill will lay the framework for a further round of costly and wasteful litigation.

"The Waitangi Fisheries Commission was established over 12 years ago as a transitional measure to manage fish quota until such time as the property right owners could be determined," Mr Shirley said.

"We have seen 12 years of bitter wrangling and wasteful litigation between iwi arguing over their respective proportion of the spoils.

"Claims by urban Maori have further compounded the problem and their accommodation for political reasons has cut across the basic property right claim based on Article ll of the Treaty of Waitangi.

"Urban Maori effectively gain the benefit of fish quota based on their individual ethnicity - rather than deriving the benefit through a legitimate Treaty claim.

"It now appears that after 10 years of inter tribal war and wrangling we are witnessing intra tribal disputes with some hapu squabbling over the proportion of the iwi slice that belongs to them.

"These ongoing disputes reflect the problems of collectively held communal property rights and the incompatibility of tribalism with modern global market economies based on individual and tradable property rights.

"By legislating for a particular outcome, the Government will inevitably be the meat in the sandwich and will be drawn into the next round of disputes.

"ACT is opposing this legislation principally because of its lack of clear property rights and the unnecessarily complicated administration that will be imposed on the holders of Maori fish quota," Mr Shirley said.


For more information visit ACT online at or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at

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