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Statement From Te Ohu Kai Moana CEO

Statement From Te Ohu Kai Moana Chief Executive Robin Hapi
On Behalf Of The Treaty Of Waitangi Fisheries Commission

The Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission (Te Ohu Kai Moana) is pleased the Privy Council has confirmed that allocation of Pre-Settlement Assets is solely to Iwi and that Iwi means traditional tribes.

The Privy Council decision is brief, clear, compelling and, above all, unanimous. The decision recognises the continuing importance of Iwi in matters concerning the property rights of Maori, secured and guaranteed by the Treaty of Waitangi.

Te Ohu Kai Moana has always been confident of its interpretation of the Maori Fisheries Act 1989, the resolutions passed at the 1992 Hui a Tau and the Deed of Settlement – that the Pre-Settlement Assets are to go to Iwi and that Iwi means traditional tribes.

It is now time for all Maori to accept the final decision of the courts and move forward. It is time for Te Ohu Kai Moana to get on with allocating to representative Iwi organisations the Pre-Settlement Assets and for representative Iwi organisations to grow this economic base for the benefit of their members.

The Privy Council is also clear that litigation should stop and reiterates the view of the Waitangi Tribunal that: “Treaty matters are more for statesmen than lawyers”.

The longer the fisheries assets are tied up in the courts, the longer it will be before Iwi, and ultimately all Maori, are able to pursue the business and activity of fishing. To continue with a litigious approach is wrong. Maori are not benefiting from this legal wrangling.

All Maori, Iwi and the public of New Zealand will not accept this continued waste of time and money for much longer. The Commission has a job to do and should be able to carry that out without further legal constraint.

Te Ohu Kai Moana has always stated that the method of allocating the Pre-Settlement Assets must ultimately provide for all Maori. Te Ohu Kai Moana is working with representative Iwi organisations to develop robust constitutional systems to ensure their members are able to access the benefits regardless of where they live. These are minimum requirements all Iwi organisations have to meet before they receive any form of allocation.

The Maori Commercial Fisheries Settlement is to redress past grievances suffered by Iwi, and therefore the settlement must go to Iwi. But the settlement is ultimately for the benefit of all Maori and it is therefore necessary that Iwi organisations can deliver to all of their members irrespective of where they reside.

Fisheries Commissioners are currently discussing all aspects of allocation but have not yet made any firm decisions about how the optimum method may finally look.


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