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Cabinet Consideration Of Mäori Fisheries Welcome

Iwi Welcome Cabinet Consideration Of Mäori Fisheries Amendment Bill

“The Treaty Tribes Coalition and our supporters welcome today’s announcement by Mäori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia that Cabinet will consider the Mäori Fisheries Amendment Bill,” Harry Mikaere, Chairman of the Treaty Tribes Coalition, said today.

“More than 35 iwi sent representatives to Parliament today to present the Bill to the Minister and to Opposition Spokesperson on Fisheries Doug Kidd.

“We were heartened by the Minister’s announcement that he will present the Bill to his Cabinet colleagues for Cabinet consideration.

“We were also heartened by Doug Kidd’s announcement that the National Party will work constructively with the Government to resolve the issue and, if necessary, introduce the Bill as a Private Member’s Bill.

“At the same time, we reject the suggestion that the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission should consider the Bill. The Commission is the trustee of our assets and exists to do what iwi have already worked together and compromised to resolve. We do not accept that our trustee should consider our draft legislation. That is a matter for Parliament.”

Mr Mikaere said the Treaty Tribes Coalition’s offer of 29 August to negotiate directly with the Crown to fast-track allocation remained on the table.

“Once again there have been positive signals sent by the Chairman of the Mäori Affairs Select Committee,” he said.

“There continues to be scope for negotiation with Ministers over the size of the Development Putea.

“As we said nearly three weeks ago, negotiations would have to be guided by the following principles:

1. The principle of Mana Whenua Mana Moana will not be compromised
2. The ‘optimum allocation model’ will not be compromised – it is only the size of the Development Putea that will be the subject of negotiation
3. Negotiations are between the Treaty Tribes Coalition, representing the Treaty partner, and Ministers, representing the Crown
4. All litigation will be withdrawn before negotiations commence
5. The Crown commits in good faith to legislate to implement the ‘optimum allocation model’ before the end of this year.”

“We urge the Government to urgently respond to our letter of 29 August to the Prime Minister to allow a speedy start to negotiations to fast-track allocation of the assets.

“Today’s presentation of the Mäori Fisheries Amendment Bill will make it easier for the Government to fulfil the fifth principle.

“The Government must not be under any illusion that iwi will wait past the end of this year for the issue to be resolved.”

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 2000, 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.

On 19 September 2000, the Treaty Tribes Coalition presented draft legislation to all Members of Parliament that would direct the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission to immediately implement the “optimum allocation model”. The Minister of Mäori Affairs referred the draft legislation to Cabinet while the National Party said it would support it.

END

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