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Litigants Fail To Stop Consultation

8 February 2002

Maori are now able to continue working towards the allocation of the Maori Commercial Fisheries Settlement after the High Court today rejected an attempt to stop Iwi talking about resolutions.

Te Ohu Kai Moana will begin consultation next Monday, 11 February 2002, to discuss options put forward in the Discussion Document He Anga Mua, A Path Ahead, released in December 2001. Te Ohu Kai Moana is proposing models that take into account the allocation of Pre-Settlement Assets as well as the distribution of benefits of Post-Settlement Assets.

In the High Court in Wellington today, Judge Doogue dismissed the application by the plaintiffs. Today’s hearing concerned issues over the Commission’s past annual lease rounds of quota to Iwi. Litigants in today’s failed court action wanted the High Court to prevent Te Ohu Kai Moana from consulting with Iwi until it had provided information in electronic format that had already been provided in hard copy.

In dismissing the application, Doogue J said he could not understand why such a trivial matter was before the court.

The Chief Executive of the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission (Te Ohu Kai Moana), Robin Hapi, said: “The public of New Zealand are already concerned about what’s been deemed as a ‘grievance industry’, and with such wasteful litigation, their concerns are possibly well founded.”

Mr Hapi said that work on allocation would continue and he hoped that issues of concern would in future be resolved without the need for parties to litigate. “The consultation process is well underway. Te Ohu Kai Moana is committed to seeing this settlement used for the benefit of all Maori.”

He said the Maori Commercial Fisheries Settlement was about returning a property right to Iwi. “Until allocation is resolved, Te Ohu Kai Moana has leased to Iwi quota at discounted rates. The Iwi is then able to either on lease the quota at market rates, thereby making a profit, or fish the quota.”

“Te Ohu Kai Moana has been scrupulous in its administration of the lease rounds. These rounds were based on Commission policies that gave effect to principles emanating from the Maori Fisheries Act and various other findings including Waitangi Tribunal reports,” he said. “This litigation was to hold up the consultation process necessary before the Commission can make any final decisions on allocation.”

Ends

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