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Iwi Present Solution To Mäori Fisheries Allocation

Iwi Present Solution To Mäori Fisheries Allocation Delays

“Immediate passage of the draft Mäori Fisheries Amendment Bill is the only way to stop the destruction of $1 million of Mäori wealth every month,” Harry Mikaere, Chairman of the Treaty Tribes Coalition, said at Parliament today.

“We, and all the iwi who have come to Wellington today, call on all Members of Parliament and their parties to pick up the legislation, introduce it and enact it by the end of the year.

“The Treaty Partner makes this call eight years since the signing of the Deed of Settlement for the fisheries claim and four months since the release of an independent study that showed delay in implementing the ‘optimum allocation model’ for the ‘pre-settlement assets’ is costing Mäori at least $1 million a month.

“The ‘optimum allocation model’ has the support of the overwhelming majority of Mäori. As the Treaty Partner, we call on the House of Representatives to deliver law that directs it to be implemented.

“It would restore our property right to the assets under Article Two of the Treaty of Waitangi. It would allow iwi to develop our own economies and close our own gaps. And it wouldn’t cost the taxpayer a cent.

“The alternative is for the Government to continue to preside over the destruction of $1 million of Mäori wealth every month.

“We therefore ask all MPs to support the introduction and passage of the draft legislation as a Government measure.

“We ask them to recognise that the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission is now an impotent organisation, that can neither implement the existing model nor modify it without five more years of consultation that will cost Mäori $84 million.

“We ask them to recognise that they themselves have a responsibility to act.”

The draft Mäori Fisheries Amendment Bill was commissioned by the Treaty Tribes Coalition and prepared by law firm Bell Gully. If enacted by Parliament it would direct the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission to immediately implement the “optimum allocation model”.

The Treaty Tribes Coalition, and its key iwi supporters, presented it to all Members of Parliament today. It was received in the Beehive Foyer by Hon. Parekura Horomia, Minister of Mäori Affairs and Hon. Doug Kidd, Opposition Spokesperson on Fisheries.

The presentation to all MPs follows a four-month regional campaign by the Treaty Tribes Coalition that has drawn support from all sections of New Zealand society from Whangarei to Invercargill, and the unanimous support of the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council at its annual conference.

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.

Under the model, 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.

Key opposition parties say they will work co-operatively with the Government to fix the law.

END

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