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$10 Million Of Rangitikei/Manawatu Assets Tied Up


MEDIA STATEMENT
Friday 7 July 2000 For Immediate Use

$10 MILLION OF RANGITIKEI/MANAWATU ASSETS TIED UP IN WELLINGTON

“The Government’s failure to seriously address the Mäori fisheries assets issue means over $10 million of Rangitikei/Manawatu assets remain tied up in Wellington,” Harry Mikaere, Chairman of the Treaty Tribes Coalition, said today.

Mr Mikaere said the region was entitled to over $10 million of assets under the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission’s Optimum Allocation Model, which achieved the support two years ago of 76 percent of iwi representing 63 percent of Mäori.

“That’s a majority in anyone’s language – and was achieved after five years of consultation and compromise – but allocation is still being held up by the antics of just a handful of individuals,” he said.

“These individuals have at least five more years of litigation up their sleeves and they could always come up with more and more obscure challenges to the allocation of the assets.

“That is despite their claims being rejected by every court that has considered them.

“Only Parliament can sort the issue out but the Government is dithering, despite the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research showing nearly two months ago, in an independent and conservative study, that delay is destroying at least $1 million a month, compounding to $84 million by 2006. Some of that destroyed wealth is Rangitikei/Manawatu wealth.”

Mr Mikaere said the Government was not listening to the Treaty Tribes Coalition, the 25 iwi that back it, or the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council (SeaFIC) – all of which are calling for immediate legislation to direct allocation of the assets to stop the destruction of wealth.

“Instead of listening to Mäori or business, the Government is embarking on a futile process to resolve the issue. It has not consulted Mäori on its process, failing to recognise the Treaty of Waitangi has two partners. And the unilateral process will fail, while more wealth is destroyed every month.”

Mr Mikaere said the Government’s process, outlined in recently-released Cabinet papers, would take months or years and involved seven steps:

1. Appointing a new Minister of Mäori Affairs
2. Allowing the new Minister time to fulfil his statutory obligations to interview and consult in order to appoint a new Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission
3. Appointing a new commission, which will be just as hamstrung as the current one
4. Allowing the new commission time to fail
5. Appointing an international mediator
6. Allowing time for the international mediator to fail
7. Legislating to direct allocation

“If the Government were to listen to Mäori or the seafood industry, it would drop steps one to six and move immediately to the legislation we are calling for,” Mr Mikaere concluded

BACKGROUND

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.

END

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