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Now For The Real Issue, Minister

“The Minister of Mäori Affairs has worked through the side issue of appointing new Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commissioners,” Harry Mikaere, Chairman of the Treaty Tribes Coalition, said today. “He must now focus on the real issue of legislating to implement the ‘optimum allocation model’.

“If he does not, he will be responsible for continuing the destruction of $1 million of Mäori seafood industry wealth every month, caused by delays in implementing the model.

“The Minister would be hopelessly mistaken if he thinks today’s appointments will progress that issue in any way.

“The new commission will be just as impotent under constant legal challenge as the outgoing commission.

“The only way forward is for parliament to fix the law to stop the legal challenges and direct the implementation of the model.

“The 25 iwi that support the Treaty Tribes Coalition will not accept any move to reopen debate on the model. It was an historic compromise that achieved the support of 76 percent of iwi representing 63 percent of Mäori. We do not accept that Mäori, alone in New Zealand society, should have to achieve a 100 percent consensus before anything can be done.

“The new commissioners are to be congratulated. They have important responsibilities as trustees of iwi fishing assets. But that is all they are: our trustees.

“Now he has worked through the appointments issue, the Minister must show leadership and introduce legislation to implement the model. If he does not, he will be responsible for destroying $1 million of Mäori seafood industry wealth every month.”

Mr Mikaere said he would shortly announce plans to take to parliament the Treaty Tribes’ campaign for immediate allocation. The coalition has spent three months on a regional tour building support for immediate allocation from hundreds of regional, business and Mäori leaders.

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.

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.

In April, 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 May 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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