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Fisheries legislation lacks business fundamentals

5 May 2004

Maori leaders claim fisheries legislation lacks business fundamentals

“We want Maori business treated like any other business”

One of the country’s most prominent Maori leaders claims the Maori Fisheries Bill lacks accountability to shareholders and imposes poor governance provisions which will doom many iwi fishing companies to failure.

Appearing before the Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Select Committee last night Treaty Tribes Coalition chairman Harry Mikaere urged committee members to “treat us all the same – that is all we ask”.

Mr Mikaere says the legislation creates a complicated web of structures for the allocation of quota delivered by the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Settlement legislation.

“As you know, the Treaty Tribes Coalition does not support the allocation model set out in the bill – but now the quota is being allocated we want to ensure it is fair and just. As it stands, the business-model created is convoluted, restrictive, and uncommercial,” he says.

Ultimately, Mr Mikaere predicts, the model will significantly erode the value of the asset.

Under this complex and over-engineered structure there are effectively six levels of organisation between individual iwi members and the fishing company assets to be held under Aotearoa Fisheries Limited.

Mr Mikaere says “these arrangements are like a form of funds management being imposed on iwi and the rules mean we will have little say at all. On top of this iwi get income shares but not voting shares – some people say they are worse than junk bonds.”

The objective of the fisheries settlement legislation is to support and encourage Maori into the business and the activity of fishing. For Mr Mikaere and the members of the Treaty Tribes Coalition it fails on both counts.


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