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Govt. Commitment Allows Tribes To Look Forward

MEDIA STATEMENT

Sunday 29 April 2001 For Immediate Use

Government Commitment Allows Tribes To Look Forward

A Government commitment to deliver more than $350 million in fisheries assets to iwi before the next election has allowed fishing iwi to move from “grievance mode” to “economic development mode”, Harry Mikaere, Chairman of the Treaty Tribes Coalition, said on the eve of Seafood Week 2001.

“The Government has made a commitment that the ‘pre-settlement assets’ currently held in trust for iwi by the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission will be allocated before the next election.

“That commitment allows iwi to look forward, not backwards. We can now work with the seafood industry to develop strategies to maximise the value of the assets when we receive them during the next 18 months.”

Mr Mikaere said this was a significant shift.

“Last year we went to the seafood industry conferences armed with independent research that showed delays in allocation were costing our people at least $1 million a month. The Seafood Industry Council (SeaFIC) passed a unanimous resolution that allocation should happen immediately by Government action.

“This year, the Government’s commitment to allocation means that resolution of this issue is in sight. Twelve months since receiving SeaFIC’s unanimous support, we are going to the seafood industry conferences with a positive message.

“It is true that delays in allocation have cost iwi more than $12 million since receiving SeaFIC’s support, and that we face additional costs with a Privy Council hearing later this month – despite it being a case we are almost certain to win.

“But our key focus now is on iwi as the future of the Maori seafood industry and as key players in the New Zealand seafood industry as a whole.

“Already, iwi are forming partnerships with one another – and with others in the industry – to generate maximum value from our assets.

“We will be using Seafood Week to further strengthen our relationships with the industry so that we are well positioned to fully develop our assets once they are allocated.

“The Government’s commitment to allocation will therefore do more to develop regional economies than almost any other measure.

“We are pleased that the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission is also committed to allocation,” Mr Mikaere concluded.

The Treaty Tribes Coalition will host a function on Thursday night at the SeaFIC conference to thank the industry for its support over the last 12 months.

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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