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Fishing Assets Tied Up In Wellington

Over $27 Million Of Gisborne And East Coast Fishing Assets Tied Up In Wellington

“Over $27 million of fishing assets belonging to Gisborne and the East Coast are tied up in Wellington, and it’s costing the region at least $77,000 a month,” Harry Mikaere, Chairman of the Treaty Tribes Coalition, said today.

“We have a Government that is concerned about building business confidence, developing regional economies and closing the gaps between Mäori and non-Mäori.

“One of the best ways the Government could help achieve all those goals in Gisborne and the East Coast is to fix the law so that $27 million of fishing assets are immediately allocated to the region.

“And it wouldn’t cost the taxpayer a cent.”

Mr Mikaere is in Gisborne today to urge local leaders to support Treaty Tribes’ programme to get the Government to fix the law to free up fishing assets nationwide.

His programme includes a meeting with local iwi, including Ngäi Tamanuhiri, Rongowhakaata, Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki and Ngäti Porou, and a Civic Reception this afternoon, hosted by Gisborne Mayor John Clarke. He will also be meeting with seafood industry, business and community leaders.

“The issue is a lot simpler than many think,” Mr Mikaere said.

“In 1989, the Crown granted fishing quota and other assets to iwi as part of the ‘pre-settlement’ fisheries agreement. These assets have been held in trust by the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission pending final allocation to iwi.

“For five years there was consultation and compromise until, in 1998, the Commission was successful in achieving the support of 76 percent of iwi, representing 63 percent of Mäori, for its ‘optimum allocation model’. That model would deliver the $27 million of fishing assets to Gisborne and the East Coast region.

“But despite this mandate, allocation is being held up by the legal tricks of one or two individuals.

“They have never won a case in New Zealand courts, but that isn’t stopping them heading off to the Privy Council in London next year.

“We are confident that they will not win their case in the Privy Council, either, but meanwhile the delay in allocation is costing the New Zealand economy $1 million a month, according to a conservative study by the independent New Zealand Institute of Economic Research.

“With Gisborne and East Coast iwi entitled to nearly eight percent of the assets, it means delay is costing this region at least $77,000 a month.

“The Seafood Industry Council of New Zealand unanimously backs our call for legislation. Like us, they want the politics to stop. They want to go fishing and work with us to further develop New Zealand’s fourth-largest export industry.

“Everyone in the Gisborne and East Coast area now needs to get behind the Treaty Tribes Coalition and the Seafood Industry Council and urge the Government to act.

“That way, local iwi could form long-term partnerships with one another and with the local seafood industry to develop the assets. That’s the only way to stop the destruction of the wealth of this region.”


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 consultation two years ago, the model had 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.

ENDS


Inquiries: Harry Mikaere
Chairman, Treaty Tribes Coalition
021 972 669

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