Northland Doesn’t Need Jimmy Carter:It Needs Its $
Northland Doesn’t Need Jimmy Carter:It Needs Its $65 Million Of Fishing Assets
“The Government should stop wasting time and money searching overseas for a Jimmy Carter to free up $350 million of Mäori fishing assets currently held in trust by the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission,” Harry Mikaere, Chairman of the Treaty Tribes Coalition, said in Whangarei today.
Cabinet papers released under the Official Information Act last week showed the Government was considering hiring international mediators for work that “could be considered equivalent to mediated agreements on the international plane” .
Mr Mikaere said the Government should itself take responsibility for delays in allocation because they were caused by just a handful of individuals exploiting flawed law.
“Instead of looking for foreign help, the Government should fix the law to allow the will of the overwhelming majority of Mäori to prevail,” he said.
“That would deliver $65 million of fishing assets to northern iwi at no cost to the taxpayer. It would allow the Northland economy to grow by $185,000 a month, based on a conservative study by the independent New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER).
“No other Government initiative would do more to build business confidence in Northland, develop the regional economy and close the gaps between Mäori and non-Mäori.”
Mr Mikaere was in Whangarei to meet with Northland business, local government, regional government and Mäori leaders.
He said the Treaty Tribes Coalition was becoming frustrated at the Government’s approach to the Mäori fishing assets issue.
“The optimum allocation model was developed through five years of careful consultation by the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission.
“It represented an historic compromise between those iwi with large populations and those with long coastlines – and it even has $10 million for those Mäori who are not yet members of their iwi organisations.
“In 1998, the model achieved the support of 76% of iwi representing 63% of Mäori.
“Despite that overwhelming majority, allocation is being delayed because a few individuals are exploiting flaws in the law with frivolous but never-ending legal challenges.
“More than a month ago, Treaty Tribes released the independent NZIER study that showed, conservatively, delay is destroying $1 million of Mäori seafood industry wealth every month.
“Our call for the Government to immediately fix the law was supported unanimously by the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council (SeaFIC) at its annual conference.
“Despite Mäori and SeaFIC speaking with one voice, the Government is wasting time, as the papers released under the Official Information Act last week show.
“It is talking about international mediators. It is talking about new commissioners who will be just as hamstrung as the current commissioners.
“Every month the Government wastes talking costs Northland $185,000 in lost opportunities.”
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.
Deep-sea 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.