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New Maori Party Asked About Fisheries Bill View

MEDIA STATEMENT

Monday 5 February 2001 For Immediate Use

NEW MAORI PARTY ASKED FOR POSITION ON FISHERIES BILL

The Treaty Tribes Coalition has called on Derek Fox and supporters of the proposed Maori political party to immediately state their position on the draft Maori Fisheries Amendment Bill. There are reports that the new political party will be discussed at a hui tomorrow.

The draft Maori Fisheries Amendment Bill was presented to all Members of Parliament on 19 September and its immediate implementation was supported by representatives of 36* iwi at a Hui Taumata at Waipatu Marae on 11 November.

Harry Mikaere, Chairman of the Treaty Tribes Coalition, said today that the coalition was planning to write this week to its supporters throughout New Zealand and wanted to include information on the party’s position on the draft bill.

“While the Treaty Tribes Coalition is non-partisan, our supporters will be keenly interested in where the new party stands on the draft bill,” he said. “They will see it as a ‘litmus issue’.”

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

The Coalition is seeking the immediate implementation of the “optimum allocation model” for fisheries assets that was developed by the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission through a five-year consultation process. At the conclusion of the consultation process in 1998, the model achieved the support of 76 percent of iwi representing 63 percent of Maori.

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 the assets should be allocated on the basis of coastline and those iwi that believed they should be allocated on the basis of population. All iwi agreed that allocation should be to iwi.

Under the model, deepsea 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 total 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 a Development Putea for those Maori who are not yet 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 the technical legal challenges of a few individuals. None of these challenges have been found to have merit by the courts, but legal action continues.

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.

It looked at just three costs of delay relating only to the quota component of the assets, including the inability of iwi to form long-term multi-iwi partnerships. From just these three costs, 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 2000 annual conference.

On 19 September 2000, the Coalition and representatives of 36 iwi presented the draft Maori Fisheries Amendment Bill to all Members of Parliament. If enacted, this draft bill would direct the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission to immediately implement the “optimum allocation model” and stop the destruction of wealth.

The Minister of Maori Affairs said he would refer the draft bill to Cabinet and the commission, while the National Party said it would support it. The draft bill has been placed in the ballot to be introduced as a Private Member’s Bill.

On 11 November 2000, a Hui Taumata at Waipatu Marae saw representatives of 36 iwi support the resolutions that Parliament immediately implement the Maori Fisheries Amendment Bill and that this hui demands the allocation of all our fisheries assets and will not entertain the non-allocation of deepsea quota. These resolutions were sent to the Government.

END

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