Harry Mikaere Spch - Mäori Fisheries Amendment
of the Mäori Fisheries Amendment Bill
to all Members of Parliament
Beehive Foyer Midday
Parliament Buildings Tuesday 19 September 2000
Wellington Embargoed Until Delivery
Honourable Parekura Horomia, Minister of Maori Affairs; Honourable Doug Kidd, Opposition Spokesperson on Fisheries; Members of Parliament.
We have come here today from every corner of New Zealand, from Northland to the Bluff, and even from the Chatham Islands. We come here with the support we have gathered after travelling the length and breadth of New Zealand – from Maori and non-Maori alike. We represent large iwi. We represent small iwi. Most importantly, we represent the majority of iwi and the majority of Maori. We represent the Treaty Partner.
Ministers and Members of Parliament: You understand that in a democracy, the majority is supposed to rule. And you understand that in a civilised society, property rights are sacrosanct. Article Two of the Treaty of Waitangi guarantees iwi the ownership of our fisheries. Both Labour-led and National-led Governments have respected that, and contributed to settling the fisheries claim of the 1980s. Maori have then agreed to a compromise model to allocate the “pre-settlement” assets that flowed from the settlements.
As you know, two years ago, after five long years of consultation, 76 percent of iwi representing 63 percent of Maori agreed to support a compromise model for the allocation of our assets – the optimum allocation model. The minority of iwi that did not support the model, did support allocation to iwi. The model was a compromise between “population” and “coastline” iwi. It addressed the needs of the small minority of Maori who are not yet in close contact with their iwi organisations. It was collective decision-making at its best. It saw the overwhelming majority agree. It was an historic compromise that deserved to be implemented immediately.
But the law is flawed, and the compromise model was not implemented. The flaws in the law have prevented iwi from taking ownership of the “pre-settlement” fisheries assets - even though we have won every case in every court that has considered the matter, including the Privy Council in London. That makes a mockery of our property right.
It is preventing us from developing our fishing assets to the fullest – stopping us from developing the seafood industry for the benefit of all New Zealanders. It is destroying $1 million of our people’s wealth every month - $1 million of the country’s wealth every month. We say to all Members of Parliament today: “enough is enough”.
We are not longer prepared to see our people’s wealth destroyed, while politicians pass the buck to the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission. You know that the Commission is impotent. You know it can neither implement the agreed model, nor develop a new one without five years of consultation. That would cost Maori $84 million. You know the Commission can do nothing. Members of this Parliament – and the Government in particular – must now take responsibility for this issue. Members of Parliament must stop passing the buck.
Minister, we are not asking for your charity, or charity from the taxpayer. All we ask is to be treated like any other New Zealand citizen. We ask for our property right to be respected. We ask for the right to develop our fishing industry; to develop our own economies; to close our own gaps. That is why we present this bill to you. To you. We present it to all MPs. To all MPs. It is for your consideration. Your consideration. It is for the consideration of all MPs, across party lines.
The Bill has been written by some of New Zealand’s finest legal minds. It is a simple Bill. It would restore our property right. It would allow us to develop the seafood industry, the country’s 4th biggest export earner. It would stop the destruction of wealth. It would enable us to close our own gaps.
Minister, we ask that you – and all MPs – treat us with the same respect that we treat you and the office that you hold.