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Benson-Pope: Maori Fisheries Bill - Third Reading

16 September 2004

David Benson-Pope Maori Fisheries Bill - Third Reading Speech

This point has been reached because people have in the end been willing to compromise.


E nga iwi, e nga karangatanga maha o nga hau e wha Tena kotou, tena kotou, tena kotou katoa

Mr Speaker, I move, that the Maori Fisheries Bill 2004 be now read a third time.

This is indeed an historic day.

The Maori Fisheries Bill 2004 will repeal and replace the Maori Fisheries Act 1989, and give effect to the model that has been developed by the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission, in consultation with Maori, for allocating fisheries settlement assets to iwi, for the ultimate benefit of all Maori and all New Zealanders.

I acknowledge the presence here today in the Gallery of many of the original architects and negotiators of the settlement. I acknowledge also those who are no longer with us.

When we look back, then the origins of the Fisheries Settlement are surely entwined with those of the quota management system in the mid-1980s.

The QMS both provoked Maori objection to the actions of the Government as unfair in creating and allocating property rights in fishing, and provided the means to address the Treaty grievances of Maori over fisheries resources.

By allocating rights to existing fishers the government was seen to be alienating property.

However, this new property right, Individual Transferable Quota, provided a currency with which government could address the claims for redress, and by buying the already allocated rights back from existing fishers (rather than just taking them back), this redress was achieved without creating new inequity.

Of course, this was not an initiative without risk, but it was the vision and indeed, in a political sense, bravery, of the architects and negotiators in seeking to find a resolution to outstanding issues and to negotiate the 1992 Settlement that brings us to where we are today.

Comments by the Hon. Doug Kidd in the second reading of the 1992 Settlement Bill reflect well the tenacious spirit of those who were determined to make the Settlement succeed. He challenged the knockers, telling the House:

"The only contribution of those doomsayers amounts to saying that because something is difficult there is really no alternative but to do nothing; that to attempt anything is to expose oneself to risk; that the only comfortable existence is an existence in which one does nothing. "Those same people are prepared to stand by, for generation after generation - there have been plenty like them before - and to listen to the grieving of Maori. They are prepared to explain it away, and to carry on enjoying the fruits that they have managed to garner for themselves. I am not one of those people. I am proud to be involved because I believe I have done the right thing."

Mr Kidd also told the House that day: "There are those, of course, who would exploit difference and grievance, because they are a platform and base for a very crude type of popularism. I reject that approach utterly."

These messages to politicians would seem as valid today, as they were on the third of December, 1992. I would encourage members on the other side of the House to think on what can be achieved by participating constructively and working to include, not alienate. It is sad indeed that the National party of today does not show the principle or the generosity of spirit of its predecessors.

Of course, it has taken many years to reach this point. And though it has not always been easy going, this point has been reached because people have in the end been willing to compromise. In many instances Iwi have looked beyond what might simply be best for them to the greater needs of Maori in general, and that is to be commended.

It is also appropriate that I pay credit to the successive Commissions and Commissioners for their management of the resource endowment.

They have brought the total value of assets to approximately $750m - more than double its original value - while distributing something in the order of $20m per annum to iwi through the leasing and Annual Catch Entitlement schemes.

That is a remarkable record of stewardship.

Let me also thank the many groups and individuals who have worked for so long to bring us to this point, amongst them of course the members of the Select Committee and Ministry and Departmental staff who have meticulously managed the detail of this very complex Bill.

The Maori Fisheries Bill delivers to Maori the means to long-term financial confidence. It paves the way for economic growth that will benefit all New Zealanders. The allocation of quota, cash and income shares will empower iwi to develop their own assets and contribute even more to the economic and employment growth so important to all of us.

The Government welcomes the passage of this Bill. It is the final step the Crown must take to complete the implementation of the agreements made in the Fisheries Deed of Settlement 1992, signed between the Crown and Maori.

It is a singular privilege to have the opportunity as Minister to commend it to the House.


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