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Government Destroys $3 Million Of Mäori Wealth

Government Destroys $3 Million Of Mäori Wealth

“At least $3 million of Mäori wealth has been destroyed in the last three months and the Government is to blame,” Harry Mikaere, Chairman of the Treaty Tribes Coalition, said today.

“It is now three months to the day since the Treaty Tribes Coalition released an independent report by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) that showed delays in allocating ‘pre-settlement’ fisheries assets to iwi are costing Mäori $1 million a month.

“It is now three months since the New Zealand seafood industry agreed unanimously at its annual conference to back our call for Government legislation to stop the waste.

“Despite not disputing the NZIER finding, neither the Minister of Fisheries nor the two Ministers of Mäori Affairs have even given us the courtesy of meeting us in Wellington to hear our case.

“Instead the Government has unilaterally announced its own timeline to address the issue which would take us well into next year.

“That amounts to cavalier behaviour by the Crown towards its Treaty partner and it is increasingly angering the coalition and the 25 iwi that support us.”

Mr Mikaere said the Treaty Tribes Coalition had yesterday written again to both Ministers requesting appointments to explain the costs of Government inaction.

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.

In May, 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 in Nelson and by New Zealand’s biggest fisheries company, Sanford Ltd.

END

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