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Law Change Would Bring $45,000 A Month To Hauraki

SIMPLE LAW CHANGE WOULD BRING $45,000 A MONTH TO HAURAKI

“If the Government fixed the law to direct the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission to allocate over $15 million of Hauraki fishing assets that the commission holds in trust, the local economy would be $45,000 a month better off,” Harry Mikaere, Chairman of the Treaty Tribes Coalition, said today.

“That money could be used to build business confidence in Hauraki, develop the regional seafood industry and close the gaps between Mäori and non- Mäori. The money would come at no cost to taxpayers because the assets are already owned by Hauraki Mäori.”

Mr Mikaere was in Paeroa to put the Treaty Tribes Case for immediate allocation of “pre-settlement” fisheries assets at the Ngahutoitoi Marae and at a council reception, co-hosted by Hauraki District Mayor Basil Morrison.

“The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) calculated last month that delaying allocation of the assets is destroying $1 million of wealth each and every month,” Mr Mikaere said.

“With the Hauraki district entitled to 4 ½ percent of the assets, delay is costing this region at least $45,000 a month.

“Everyone in the district has to get behind the Treaty Tribes Coalition to demand that the Government acts to stop the waste.”

Mr Mikaere said Hauraki desperately needed the resources having been one of the worst affected regions by the removal of tariffs in recent years.

“The Government claims to be concerned about the impact of tariff removal on the Hauraki region. Here’s a way it could reverse those impacts and allow the Mäori seafood industry to create new jobs.”

Mr Mikaere said there was no good reason for the delays in allocation.

“Mäori agreed two years ago on a method for allocation. That was the optimum allocation model that, after five years of consultation, won the support of 76 percent of iwi representing more than 63 percent of Mäori.

“Despite that mandate, a handful of individuals are stopping allocation with technical legal challenges.

“While their legal antics have never won support from a New Zealand court, that isn’t stopping the litigants wasting more time and money by going off to the Privy Council in London next year.

“We’re confident their case will be thrown out of the Privy Council, but meanwhile the Hauraki region will continue to lose $45,000 every month.

“Further legal challenges are always possible.

“The Government must fix the law to stop the constant litigation and allow the Hauraki economy to grow.”

The Treaty Tribes Coalition was established in 1994 and has the support of more than 25 iwi.

The Coalition is seeking the implementation of the “optimum allocation model” that was developed by the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission through a five-year consultation process. At the conclusion of that consultation process two years ago, the model achieved the support of 76 percent of iwi representing 63 percent of Mäori.

The model deals with $350 million of “pre-settlement” fisheries assets, which have been held in trust by the commission since 1989. The commission has also held a further $350 million of “post-settlement” assets since 1992.

The model was a compromise between those iwi that believed assets should be allocated on the basis of coastline and those that believed they should be allocated on the basis of population. Deepsea quota would be allocated on a 50 percent population, 50 percent coastline basis. Inshore quota would be allocated on a coastline basis. Shares in Moana Pacific Fisheries would be allocated in proportion to the entire quota volume allocated to each iwi. A further $40 million cash would be allocated on the basis of population only, with another $10 million cash kept in trust for those Mäori who are not active members of their iwi organisations. The model also requires that iwi have mandate and accountability mechanisms to deliver to their members, the vast majority of whom are urban residents.

Despite the majority support for the compromise model, allocation is being held up by technical legal challenges by a few individuals. None of these challenges have been found to have merit by the courts, but appeals continue.

Earlier this year, the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) undertook an independent and conservative study into the costs of delaying allocation of the “pre-settlement” assets. Looking at just three costs of delay, including the inability of iwi to form multi-iwi partnerships, it concluded the costs were up to $14 million a year. This would compound to $84 million by 2006 if allocation did not occur immediately.

Following the release of the report, the Treaty Tribes Coalition renewed its call for the Government to fix the law to end the technical legal wrangling. The call was supported unanimously by the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council (SeaFIC) at its annual conference and by New Zealand’s biggest fisheries company, Sanford Ltd.

END

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