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Ngāpuhi Supports Ngāi Tahu Legal Action - Opposing “Fundamental Changes” To The 1992 Maori Fisheries Settlement

Te Rūnanga-Ā-Iwi-Ō-Ngāpuhi says it supports High Court action, taken by Te Runanga o Ngāi Tahu, to block moves by Te Ohu Kaimoana (the Maori Fisheries Settlement trust) for a fundamental change in how Maori Fisheries funds are distributed.

Te Rūnanga-Ā-Iwi-Ō-Ngāpuhi chair, Wane Wharerau, says amendments to the Māori Fisheries Act, would cost Ngāpuhi millions of dollars - and that cannot be allowed to pass into legislation.

“Ngāpuhi has an obligation to protect the existing Maori Fisheries Settlement agreements, for current and future generations.”

Te Runanga o Ngāi Tahu, has filed a High Court challenge - against a decision of Te Ohu Kaimoana - to accept a resolution, for surplus funds it holds, to be distributed to iwi in equal shares. Ngāi Tahu says Te Ohu Kaimoana has made an error in law.

Wane Wharerau says it also goes against fundamental principles of the pan-Iwi Fisheries Settlement - agreed twenty years ago – for surplus funds to be distributed based on iwi populations, rather than each of the 58 iwi equally.

Mr Wharerau says the Te Ohu Kaimoana trustees’ primary role “is to ensure that the interests of the beneficiaries of the Maori fisheries settlement assets, and designated Maori aquaculture settlement assets - Iwi and Maori - are protected and enhanced at all times.”

Mr Wharerau says Ngāpuhi support of the Ngāi Tahu application is consistent with its protests, since 2016, when the resolution to share equally was controversially put forward at a Special General Meeting of Te Ohu Kaimoana.

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Ngāpuhi welcomes the signalled intervention of the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries, to take a different approach to Te Ohu Kaimoana – by amending the Māori Fisheries Act - to clarify and confirm the law, and ensure surplus funds are distributed on a population basis.

However, Mr Wharerau concluded by saying, “Nothing can be taken for granted, so Ngāpuhi reserves the right to take its own recourse, to the Courts or the Waitangi Tribunal, if necessary.

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