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Harry Mikaere Hui Taumata Opening Presentation

Speech Notes

Harry Mikaere
Chairman

Hui Taumata
Opening Presentation

Waipatu Marae 11.30 am
Karamu Road North Saturday 11 November 2000
Hawke’s Bay


For many of you, this is the second time you have responded to our call to hui. Nearly two months ago, our supporters gathered at Parliament. Today we gather again at the home of the first Mäori Parliament.

To iwi who were not with us at Parliament, welcome. We know that some elements of the Optimum Allocation Model do not have your support. But we are clear that you believe allocation must be to iwi.

We have received an apology from Ngäti Raukawa, who support the Optimum Allocation Model. We have also received an apology from Whaingaroa and a message that they support the principle of our kaupapa. Ngäiterangi has also sent an apology. They too have sent a message supporting our draft bill and the method of allocation in it. Tuhoe have also sent a message confirming their support for allocation of the fisheries assets to iwi. From across the sea, we have also received an apology from Te Runanga o Wharekauri Rekohu. They have sent a message of absolute support.

This hui is not about arguments for or against the Optimum Allocation Model. It is not restricted to fisheries. It is about an attack by the Government on the rights of iwi. It is about an attack by the Government on the Treaty of Waitangi.

For a year, we have been told that the Government wants to “close the gaps”. It has set up committees. It has increased funding to TPK to “capacity build” and “audit” other government departments. Ministers have given a lot of speeches. At first, the Government said the programme was for Mäori. Now it says it is for everyone. Even the Prime Minister says it will be a generation before we see any benefits.

This Government first put Treaty clauses in health legislation. It said health authorities must consult with mana whenua. Now its MPs want to rub out “mana whenua” from the Bill. And the Government says the clause was never intended to advantage Mäori anyway. It appears it will now be removed altogether.

Mäori are expected to be content with these things. But while the Government has been doing these things, it has refused to give us what is ours. It has refused to seriously address the fisheries issue. Senior Ministers have refused to even meet us. The Government has refused to negotiate with us to sort the issue out. This is despite the economic research that showed Mäori are losing $1 million a month, every month that the issue drags on.

I am no friend of John Tamihere. But, in August, he suggested a way could be found to resolve the issue, and stop the waste. We heard those statements. We responded to the signal. We wrote to the Prime Minister proposing negotiations. She did not reply. It was the Minister of Fisheries who replied six weeks later. Six weeks later he said he wouldn’t meet us. It was more than a lost opportunity by the Government. It was a denial of the Treaty relationship.

On 19 September, 36 iwi went to Parliament to say “enough is enough”. We presented draft legislation that would resolve the issue, and stop the waste. The Prime Minister said our call was “the laugh of the century”. She said it wasn’t on for us to have gone to Parliament at all. The Minister of Mäori Affairs has made commitments to us, publicly and privately. He has never followed through. By his inaction, he too has disregarded our right to own our fisheries assets.

The Government believes it knows better than iwi. We say today: we don’t want your charity. We don’t want your Treaty clauses. We want our assets! We want to close our own gaps. We say to the Government today: you give us what is ours and let us close our own gaps. If we were Pakeha, you would not treat us this way. You would not play political games with our property.

Let me take you though the story.

That iwi own our fisheries is not contentious. On this point, the Treaty does not need interpretation. Even the English version specifically guarantees the Chiefs and Tribes of New Zealand the ownership of our fisheries. In 1986, the Government wanted to introduce a property right system for fisheries, the quota management system. After claims were lodged, the Waitangi Tribunal confirmed that iwi have “full, exclusive and undisturbed possession” of our fisheries. Negotiations with the Crown began.

In 1989, “pre-settlement” assets were delivered to TOKM, pending allocation to iwi. Then, in 1992, the Deed of Settlement was signed. It delivered “post-settlement” assets to TOKM, pending allocation to iwi. From 1993 to 1998, TOKM consulted with Mäori about how best to allocate the assets.

Some iwi argued that allocation should be on population. Others argued it should be based on an iwi’s relationship with the sea, through its coastline. A compromise was needed. That compromise was the Optimum Allocation Model.

After compromise, inshore quota would be allocated on the basis of coastline. The more valuable deepwater quota would be split – 50 percent would be allocated on coastline, and 50 percent on population. My iwi saw that as a big compromise. Other iwi, with the different perspective, may also have seen it as a big compromise the other way. Shares in Moana Pacific would be allocated on the basis of total quota entitlement. $40 million in cash would be allocated solely on population.

If those compromises were not enough, the model also includes $10 million for those Mäori who are not yet in close contact with their iwi organisations. And the model requires that iwi can show mandate and demonstrate accountability.

This is not a perfect model from the perspective of any individual iwi. No one gets exactly what they want. But, by 1998, TOKM was able to say the model had achieved the support of all the iwi shown on this map – 76 percent of iwi representing 63 percent of Mäori.

Even if you disagree with some elements of the model, you would agree that 76 percent of iwi representing 63 percent is a landslide. In any other sector of New Zealand society, the model would have been implemented right away. It wasn’t.

Technical legal challenges stopped allocation. Those technical legal challenges continue to stop allocation, even though the courts have said they have no merit. Appeals continue, all the way to the Privy Council in London and back again. We initially believed that the Privy Council would hear the latest appeal early next year. The latest advice from London is that the case will not be heard until May at the earliest.

Even then, the Privy Council hearing is only the first step. Our legal experts tell us there is five more years of litigation on the books. There are five more years of delay. That means that if we rely on the courts to sort this issue out, allocation cannot happen until the 2006 fishing season at the earliest. At the very earliest! In fact, litigation could possibly go on forever. This is because the Mäori Fisheries Act is technically flawed. Even the people who wrote it admit that.

Earlier this year, the Treaty Tribes Coalition decided to find out how much delay was costing iwi and New Zealand. In April, we commissioned the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research to study the issue. They are fully independent. They are conservative. They didn’t look at the cost of not allocating the $40 million cash, or the cost of not setting up the $10 million Development Putea. They looked only at the cost of not allocating the quota. This is what they found.

“The current [situation] results in poor utilisation of these assets and the direct destruction of Mäori wealth. Further delays in allocating these assets have been estimated, perhaps conservatively, to cost Mäori $5.5-14 million per annum.”

That is why the Treaty Tribes Coalition says we are losing $1 million a month. NZIER went on:

“If there is a further delay of five years in allocating the quota assets, as much as $84 million could be lost in the intervening period.”

According to NZIER, even if we just put that $84 million in the bank, it would be worth $200 million by 2021! That’s $200 million we could use to develop the next generation of our people. And it would come to our people at no cost to the taxpayer or anyone else! It would be better for everyone than the “closing the gaps” policy.

Armed with that information, we went on the road. We travelled from Whangarei to Invercargill. We met with iwi, with Mayors, with businesspeople, with MPs. We gained widespread support.

The support came from the iwi that we met. It came unanimously from the seafood industry, the country’s fourth biggest export earner. Support came from Mayors and councillors. People with no previous contact with iwi or seafood supported us when they heard our story.

Four opposition parties said they would work with the Government to sort the issue out. These opposition parties are not always interested in Mäori issues. They support us on this issue because they believe in upholding property rights.

But this coalition of support was not enough for senior Ministers to agree to even meet us. They told us we had to deal with TOKM. They told us that TOKM would develop a new model.

If senior Ministers had met us, they would know that TOKM is required to consult to develop a new model. Last time, consultation took five years. There is no reason to think it would take less a second time round. If the Government had met us it would know that iwi would lose another $84 million over those five years. And the Government would know that even after another five years, there is no chance of a new model having more support than 76 percent of iwi representing 63 percent of Mäori. Even if the commission got 99 percent support for a new model, the law is stuffed. The other one percent could stop allocation in the courts.

If senior Ministers had met us, they would know this issue is a mess. They would know that they have to take responsibility for helping to sort it out. They would know that that is their obligation under the Treaty.

The truth is now emerging that the Chairman of the new commission does not want allocation. His agenda is to keep all the assets in the Commission. He wants the power to allocate occasional dividends to iwi and other groups.

He forgets one thing. The owners of the assets – iwi – don’t want his occasional dividends. We want our assets. We want them now.

The commission has met only a few times since the new appointmentsIt seems that if Shane Jones is forced to allocate, he will seek to only allocate the less valuable inshore quota. He wants to keep the deepsea quota in the Commission’s hands.

For iwi with large populations and small coastlines that would be a disaster, as they would receive nothing. Iwi in this category might include Raukawa, Ngäti Pukenga ki Tauranga, Ngäti Manawa, Ngäti Maru and Ngäti Hauiti. All iwi would see their allocation slashed, no matter where they have stood in the spectrum of this debate. From Ngä Puhi, to Waikato, to Ngäti Porou, to Ngäi Tahu – to all the other iwi, large, small and in between.

The Chairman’s plans are entirely in line with the Government’s approach to the Treaty. The Government doesn’t seem to care what the Treaty says, or who signed it. It isn’t interested in justice. It believes it knows best. The Treaty is subordinate to its own policy of “closing the gaps”.

Shortly, John Upton QC will explain what the courts have said about the Treaty. And he will explain what the Government is saying now.

Today, we say the Treaty has to come first. We demand that the Government put the Treaty first. And we demand our fisheries assets. We demand them now.

For 28 years – under Labour and National Governments – we have moved forward slowly towards honouring the Treaty. We now risk going backward fast.

The Government has to be told very clearly by this hui that we will not be patronised. Together we must say: enough is enough. We will not be bought off by “closing the gaps” or Treaty clauses in legislation. We want our assets, because the Treaty says they are ours. We want them right now.

END

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