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Te Ohu Kaimoana Fisheries Commission Nominations

23rd July 1999

For immediate release

Nominations For Te Ohu Kaimoana Fisheries Commissioners

Maori Affairs Minister, Hon Tau Henare, today called for nominations from interested parties for appointments to Te Ohu Kaimoana, the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission.

‘These appointments are well overdue’ said Mr Henare. ‘It is now time to consider them.’

The Commissioners were last appointed in 1993. Re-appointments were due in 1996, said Mr Henare, but the process was interrupted by litigation.

Although that legal action was dismissed by the Court there was not sufficient time to make appointments before the 1996 general election.

‘I subsequently became Minister of Maori Affairs and since then have been hoping that the Maori community would reach a consensus on fisheries issues, but this has not yet eventuated," he said.

"Perhaps I took longer than I should have to examine the question of appointments, and I certainly have made public my frustration with the Commission and with other parties involved in litigation. But we, including myself, must move forward.’

Mr Henare said that he had views on the composition of the Commission, and that it was only fair that he make these explicit in the course of consulting with Maori interests on the appointments process.

‘First, I think that the Commission needs to be smaller. Although up to 13 people can be appointed, a board that size seems to me to be too cumbersome an animal to manage.

"At the same time there needs to be sufficient carry-over between the current Commission membership and any newly appointed Commissioners so that important institutional knowledge is retained.

‘Second, I currently think that the range of interests represented on the Commission needs to include those who have experience in urban Maori community affairs.’

Mr Henare said in taking this view he did not intend to line up urban and iwi interests against each other.

‘The urban Maori/iwi debate has not generated much light - rather, it has probably created confusion.

"Yet for most Maori people, living in urban circumstances does not amount to denying their iwi or hapu heritage. They merely exercise that heritage in different ways.

"I think the Commission would benefit from being able to draw more directly from such an experience base, notwithstanding the fact that several current Commissioners have also had involvement in urban based groups and communities.’

‘Third, we need people who are skilled at disputes resolution processes and constituency building in order to ensure that the Commission is best able to try to avoid the legal battles we have been forced to witness’ said Mr Henare.

Mr Henare said that although he had publicly expressed dissatisfaction with the current Commission’s lack of success in generating greater Maori consensus on fisheries issues, he had not interfered with the Commission which is a statutory body acting under the Maori Fisheries Act 1985.

‘Nevertheless, now that a new round of appointments is underway, I felt I should put forward my preliminary ideas about the general shape of a Commission which I believe should take Maori into the millennium.’

Mr Henare added: ‘For all the controversy over allocation, litigation, Commissioners’ fees and so on, we should not lose sight of the fact that the Commission is a very significant player in the fisheries sector. Maori are collectively taking advantage of opportunities in the sector based on the Commission’s work to build skills, increase the asset base and develop export markets. In many ways this activity demonstrates that the process of implementing the Maori Fisheries Settlement is proceeding apace. I want to see that process continue.’

Mr Henare said as well as calling for nominations, he was also seeking views and submissions on the appropriate selection criteria for appointments.

‘I have stated what I think should be taken into account and now I am asking Maori for their views.’

In the past the selection criteria have included:

* fluency in Te Reo Maori and an understanding of Maori aspirations;

* an understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi and its application in modern society;

* business experience, preferably in the fishing industry;

* financial management skills commensurate with the management of a complex financial enterprise;

* possession of effective communication skills;

* representation of regional fishing interests.

‘My present view is that these remain valid criteria for the appointment of Commissioners,’ said Mr Henare.

The Minister also noted that he would consider all nominations which were made in the consultation undertaken in 1996 for the current nominations round.

‘A national hui will be held on August 14 to hear the views of Maori on nominations and selection criteria, and I will advise of these details soon’ said Mr Henare.

Ends

All nominations for the Commission and submissions on selection criteria should be sent by 13 August 1999 to:

The Chief Executive

Ministry of Maori Development

P.O.Box 3943

WELLINGTON

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