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Iwi Have Say In NZ’s Largest Fishing Company

29 August 2002

Iwi Have Say In NZ’s Largest Fishing Company

The Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission’s proposals for allocation of the Fisheries Settlement give small Iwi more say and control over Aotearoa Fisheries Limited than if they had direct ownership of the shares.

The Commission’s chairman, Shane Jones, told a gathering of members of the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce today that Iwi will have basically the same rights as shareholders in other companies.

“Iwi will have the right to have a say in the appointment of directors, the right to expect accountability, a legislated dividend stream from their shareholding, and the right to sell that shareholding,” he said.

“The only difference will be that Iwi will be able to sell income shares, not ownership shares. Why don’t they get ownership shares – because the proposals we have put forward protect what must be an enduring benefit for all Maori for generations to come.”

Mr Jones told the gathering that AFL would meet similar requirements expected of any publicly-listed company, and more.

“There will be an annual agreement of the statement of intent with Te Ohu Kai Moana, monthly performance reporting to Te Ohu Kai Moana, and the directors of the new company will be appointed solely on relevant competence for the role,” he said. “Iwi will receive annual audited accounts, participate in an annual general meeting and be provided with six-monthly published accounts. They can expect to get no more, or possibly even less, if they had direct ownership in a public company.”

Mr Jones said that some Iwi have said that with direct ownership, they would be able to exercise control.

“Control within AFL, like any other company, lies with the board of the company. The board of AFL will be accountable to its shareholders as outlined through the accountability mechanisms, which through our proposals are arguably stronger than if AFL was merely a standard structure.”

“What does an Iwi with a 2 percent or even a 6 percent shareholding exercise in terms of control – none. It would require the smallest 44 Iwi out of 56 Iwi groups to band together to reach even a 25 percent threshold to have some say.”

“The Commission considered alternative ownership models in arriving at our proposed model and found that this proposed model provides a higher degree of accountability, transparency, and provides for increased Maori strength within a globally competitive fishing industry that will return long-term gains for the benefit of all Maori,” Mr Jones said.

Mr Jones emphasised that the Commission had to provide a fair scheme for all Iwi. “This has involved necessary compromises. If we are to satisfy the 1992 Deed of Settlement, as emphasised by the Privy Council, a method of allocating assets and distributing benefits of the Fisheries Settlement can only occur if the Commission is satisfied that such a proposal will ultimately be for the benefit of all Maori.”


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