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Government Risks Losing Key Mäori Seats

“The Government’s failure to seriously address the Mäori fisheries assets allocation issue puts it at risk of losing key Mäori seats at the next election,” Harry Mikaere, Chairman of the Treaty Tribes Coalition, warned today.

“Five months ago today, the Treaty Tribes Coalition released a conservative study by the independent New Zealand Institute for Economic Research that showed delays in allocating the assets to iwi are costing $1 million a month. We sought a constructive dialogue with the Government to stop that waste.

“Instead of entering into a constructive dialogue, the Government has treated us – and the more than 35 iwi that support us – with utter contempt.

“When more than 35 iwi came to Parliament on 19 September to ask MPs to pass the Mäori Fisheries Amendment Bill that would resolve the issue and stop the waste, the Prime Minister described our call as ‘the laugh of the century’. She said ‘really it’s not on’ for us to have made the request at all. She displayed her ignorance when she falsely described us as a front for former Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commissioners.

“Previously we had written to the Prime Minister proposing negotiations to fast-track allocation, following positive statements by the Chairman of the Mäori Affairs Select Committee. Nearly six weeks later we received a letter from the Minister of Fisheries saying he would not even meet us.

“That completed a pattern of the Government not being prepared to seriously reply to any of the concerns we have raised in a lengthy correspondence we are releasing publicly today.

“This ‘head-in-the-sand’ attitude of the Prime Minister and her Ministers is intolerable. If the Government had seriously addressed the issue, it would know that the five-year consultation process from 1993 to 1998 delivered an historic compromise – the ‘optimum allocation model’ that had the support of 76 percent of iwi representing 63 percent of Mäori.

“If the Government had engaged us in discussion, it would not put its faith in the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission because it would know that body is impotent. It would know that it would take many more years for the Commission to consult with Mäori to develop a new model. The Government would know that the likelihood of any new model having more support than 76 percent of iwi representing 63 percent of Mäori is nil.

“The Government would also know that even if 99 percent of iwi representing 99 percent of Mäori agreed to a new model, flaws in the law mean that the other one percent could prevent its implementation in the courts.

“The only solution to this debacle – and the destruction of wealth it is causing – is for Parliament to introduce and enact the draft Mäori Fisheries Amendment Bill.

“It would allow Mäori to invest in our fishing industry, develop our own economies and close our own gaps – and it wouldn’t cost the taxpayer a cent. That is in marked contrast to the Government’s controversial ‘closing the gaps’ programme that is costing the taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars but may not deliver Mäori anything.

“What’s more, the Crown and Parliament have an obligation to pass the Bill because they have an obligation to deliver law that gives effect to the will of the overwhelming majority of the Treaty Partner, iwi. This means that should Parliament fail to pass the Bill, the principles of fullness and finality that underpin the 1992 Fisheries Settlement will be undermined. The work of the last 15 years will be undone and the country will be back to square one.

“While the Government has treated us with utter contempt, Opposition MPs from several parties have given us a fair hearing. We are asking them to introduce the draft Mäori Fisheries Amendment Bill and we ask all MPs to support it.

“It is a fact of political life that those MPs that do not support the Bill will face active opposition from iwi at the next election. That applies particularly to MPs in Mäori seats.”

BACKGROUND

The Treaty Tribes Coalition was established in 1994 and has the support of more than 35 iwi.

The Coalition is seeking the implementation of the “optimum allocation model” for iwi fisheries assets 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.

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. The Coalition has also received extensive support from Local Government and community and business leaders from around the country. In contrast, the Government has not been prepared to seriously address the Coalition’s concerns.

On 19 September 2000, more than 35 iwi supported the Treaty Tribes Coalition in presenting the draft Mäori Fisheries Amendment Bill to all Members of Parliament, through the Minister of Mäori Affairs and the Opposition Spokesperson on Fisheries. This was the biggest gathering of iwi in Wellington on a fisheries issue with more people than for the signing of the 1992 Deed of Settlement.

Iwi represented included Ngäti Kuri Trust Board, Te Rünanga o Ngäti Hine, Ngäti Wai Trust Board, Te Rünanga o Ngäti Whatua, Ngäti Whanaunga, Ngäti Pukenga ki Waiau, Ngäti Hako, Patukirikiri, Ngäti Tara Tokanui, Ngäti Paoa, Ngäti Rahiri Tumutumu, Ngäti Porou ki Harataunga, Ngäi Tai, Ngäti Hei, Ngäti Maru, Ngäti Tamatera, Te Rünanga o Ngäti Awa, Te Whänau ä Apanui, Te Runanga o Ngäti Porou, Ngäi Tamanuhiri Whanui Trust, Te Aitanga ä Mahaki Trust, Rongowhakaata Charitable Trust, Ngäti Kahungunu Iwi Inc., Ngäti Tama Iwi Development Trust, Ngäti Mutunga Iwi Authority, Whanganui River Mäori Trust Board, Te Rünanganui o Toa Rangatira, Ngäti Toarangatira Manawhenua ki te Tau Ihu, Ngäti Apa ki te Ra To Inc., Ngäti Rarua Iwi Trust, Te Rünanga o Ngäi Tahu, Ngäti Koata No Rangitoto ki te Tonga Trust, Ngäti Tama Manawhenua ki te Tau Ihu Trust, Te Atiawa Manawhenua ki te Tau Ihu Trust, Te Rünanga o Wharekauri Rekohu, and Moriori Tchakat Henu Association of Rekohu Inc.

CANTERBURY ON AIR 8.50 AM “ROBIN HARRISON”
WEDNESDAY 20 SEPTEMBER 2000

PRESENTER (ROBIN HARRISON): THE OTHER THING I WANTED TO MENTION THIS MORNING WAS THE TREATY TRIBES COALITION COMING TO WELLINGTON AND PRESENTING TO THE GOVERNMENT SOME POLICIES THAT THEY BELIEVE WOULD WORK BEST ON THE ALLOCATION OF THE FISHERIES RIGHTS. THIS HAS BEEN IN LIMBO FOR QUITE A WHILE NOW…

HELEN CLARK (PRIME MINISTER): MM.

PRESENTER: THEY WOULD LIKE TO AVOID ANY FURTHER LEGAL ACTION. IS THERE A MEETING OF MINDS HERE AT ALL?

CLARK: WELL, THERE ISN’T ACTUALLY. I MEAN THE TREATY TRIBES COALITION BASICALLY REFLECTS THE VIEWS OF THE MAJORITY OF THE OUTGOING MAORI FISHERIES COMMISSION. NOW, IT’S FAIR TO SAY THAT COMMISSION’S BEEN ESTABLISHED FOR WHAT.. SEVEN, EIGHT YEARS, AND NEVER MANAGED TO COME UP WITH A CLEAR PROPOSAL FOR THE GOVERNMENT. THEY DID A LOT OF CONSULTATION, WENT ROUND AND ROUND IN CIRCLES, THERE’S BEEN A LOT OF LITIGATION. BASICALLY THE MODEL THEY WANTED IS THE ONE THESE PEOPLE CAME TO PARLIAMENT WITH YESTERDAY. NOW, THE POINT IS WE’VE JUST APPOINTED A NEW COMMISSION. IT IS MORE BROADLY BASED. IT WILL TAKE ANOTHER LOOK AT THE MODEL, AND REALLY IT’S NOT ON FOR THE IN EFFECT THE OUTGOING COMMISSION TO COME THROUGH THE BACKDOOR OF THE TREATY TRIBES COALITION AND SAY WELL, THIS IS WHAT WE WANT AND YOU SHOULD LEGISLATE FOR IT.

PRESENTER: THEY’RE SAYING THAT THEY.. THAT THE GOVERNMENT DOESN’T SEEM TO WANT TO TAKE OWNERSHIP OF THE ISSUE AT ALL.

CLARK: OH NO, I MEAN, THAT REALLY IS THE LAUGH OF THE CENTURY BECAUSE THE LEGISLATION PASSED BY JIM BOLGER’S GOVERNMENT.. MONTHS EARLIER IN THE 90’S REQUIRED THE MAORI FISHERIES COMMISSION TO COME TO GOVERNMENT WITH A RECOMMENDATION FOR ALLOCATION. TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE THAT’S NEVER HAPPENED IN SEVEN OR EIGHT YEARS.

PRESENTER: WHAT DOES THE NEXT MOVE NEED TO BE THEN, PRIME MINISTER?

CLARK: RIGHT, THE NEXT MOVE IS FOR THE NEW COMMISSION TO GET TO GRIPS WITH THE ISSUE, AND I HOPE THAT’S MUCH MORE QUICKLY THAN THE LAST ONE, AND TO COME TO GOVERNMENT WITH A RECOMMENDATION. NOW, THE GOVERNMENT DOESN’T HAVE TO ACCEPT THE RECOMMENDATION, BUT THE POINT IS SO FAR WE’VE HAD NOTHING TO EITHER ACCEPT OR REJECT.
ENDS

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