Commission Releases Lease Round Information
13 February 2001
The Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission (Te Ohu Kai Moana) is to make available to litigant parties information on past lease rounds, which has been at the centre of litigation this month, in electronic format.
Litigant parties in the High Court in Wellington last Friday sought to stop Te Ohu Kai Moana embarking on consultation over proposals to allocate the Treaty Fisheries Settlement. They also sought an order compelling Te Ohu Kai Moana to release in electronic format information on past lease rounds that had already been released in hard copy form.
Judge Doogue dismissed both applications.
Te Ohu Kai Moana chief executive Robin Hapi said today that Te Ohu Kai Moana will release this information in an effort to bring to an end litigation that only perpetuates a so-called "grievance industry" and has the potential to hold up the return to Maori of an important fisheries asset.
"In my opinion, there are people who are making money out the Maori fisheries settlement for all the wrong reasons. Te Ohu Kai Moana wishes to see an end to that so that all Maori can benefit from this settlement, not just a few," he said.
"Te Ohu Kai Moana does not have to release this information in the format requested and, once again, we've been supported by the High Court. But we want to see litigation finished with. Te Ohu Kai Moana wants to see an end to unnecessary, wasteful litigation. In the spirit of good faith, we have extended an olive branch to these people and decided to release the information," he said.
"The public of New Zealand is already concerned about a growing 'grievance industry'. Te Ohu Kai Moana does not want to contribute to those concerns. If such litigation continues, the public of New Zealand will rightfully condemn such actions."
"The way to finish this grievance industry - where consultants and lawyers make money while those for whom the settlement was returned receive little - is to finish with litigation and resolve the allocation issue for the benefit of all Maori. Te Ohu Kai Moana is committed to ensuring that happens. For that reason, we will release this information in the spirit of good faith."
"Since it was established in 1990, Te Ohu Kai Moana has successfully assisted Maori into the business of fishing by leasing to Iwi quota at discounted rates. Iwi are then able to either on-lease the quota at market rates, thereby making a profit, or fish the quota."
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"In October 1993, a methodology for leasing quota was implemented following extensive consultation with Iwi. This methodology was based on the length of an Iwi's coastline in a particular Fisheries Management Area and the size of its population and is a formula based on principles emanating from the Maori Fisheries Act and various other findings, including Waitangi Tribunal reports."
"Some challenges have occurred, but the majority of those have concerned boundary disputes between Iwi and issues over who are the rightful representatives of the Iwi," Mr Hapi said. "There have been some challenges to the actual methodology, but ultimately the methodology has been held up by the courts."
Mr Hapi said it also needed to be kept in perspective that significant benefits have flowed to Iwi. "Since 1990, the Commission distributed through tender and lease over 643,000 tonnes of quota to Iwi and received $104 million for it, which pays for Government charges, other costs associated with quota ownership plus a contribution to the Commission's administration costs."
"Collectively, Iwi will have made significantly more from fishing or leasing on this quota than Te Ohu Kai Moana has received for it," he said.
"The Maori Commercial Fisheries Settlement must be allocated equitably. That does not mean equal. Some Iwi have fared better than others for many reasons, but most notably because some Iwi have a longer coastline and greater population than others. Not all Iwi initially tendered for quota in the early years and not all Iwi wanted to participate in the lease rounds at that time. Mere simplistic citation of tonnages of fish quota and cost of tenders can misrepresent the true nature of lease rounds and only confuses the complicated business of trading quota."
Mr Hapi said he hoped issues of concern would in future be resolved without the need for parties to litigate.