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Address to Open the 2017 Māori Fisheries Conference

Address to Open the 2017 Māori Fisheries Conference
Jamie Tuuta, Chairman,
Te Ohu Kaimoana (Māori Fisheries Trust)

Novotel Hotel, Auckland International Airport
29 MARCH 2017

Kia ora Tatou. It is my pleasure to welcome you to this year’s Māori Fisheries Conference.

This year’s theme is “wā muri ka oti āmua – to understand the past is to know the future”.

We will begin the morning with speakers who will address this theme, including the keynote address by Sir Tipene O’Regan, before moving onto other topics such as the economy, the environment and politics, particularly pertinent given it is an election year.

We hope that you enjoy the line-up of speakers and make the most of seeing each other.

We have attempted to deliver a conference that isn’t solely about fisheries, but addresses wider relevant themes. Some of our speakers are outspoken and will give food for thought.

Why did we choose this particular theme for our conference this year?

Because it is increasingly apparent that we – iwi and Māori – have taken our eye off the ball. And what has been at stake - our rights.

The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill made that abundantly clear.

It was a major topic at our conference last year, and my speech to you all focussed heavily on it.

The following 12 months have been somewhat of a battle.

But the Sanctuary Bill raised important issues of ownership, of Treaty rights, Crown relations and the nature of the Māori Fisheries Settlement.

It raised issues of fisheries and the environment, as well as international access to New Zealand fisheries, and conversely New Zealanders’ access to international fisheries.

The debate brought about frank discussions over fisheries management and the role of the Fisheries Act.

Questions around why a sanctuary is needed when the Fisheries Act and our quota management system are perfectly capable of managing sustainability.

The properties of the QMS – perpetuity, security, and sustainability – were the incentives Māori required for long-term management, recognising that future generations would benefit or otherwise from the actions of the current generation.

The quota represented a right to fish in perpetuity which is what Māori sought and the Māori Fisheries Settlement was the result.

The rights were secure dependent only on meeting sustainability requirements.

Maori endorsed the Quota Management System in 1992 as a suitable regime for the sustainable management of commercial fisheries. It is the only fisheries management regime that has been agreed and endorsed by Māori. There is no other.

It was considered then, as it remains now, a regime in which Māori and iwi could play a meaningful part.

Sir Tipene will share some insight into this very matter.

So, we live in interesting times to say the very least.

Te Ohu Kaimoana has been holding this annual conference for five years. We had around 340 people register to attend and am pleased that we have representatives of more than 40 iwi present today.

We are brought together because of the significant discussions on how we manage the marine environment in the future. About how we hold the Crown accountable to the partnership to which they subscribed.

And how we give expression to the Māori fisheries settlement in a contemporary context. Everything that has ever gone wrong between Māori and the Crown since 1840 is a result of a clash of ideology. Mostly a clash of western ideology over Māori value systems.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has promoted its Future of Our Fisheries proposals and these raise important issues in respect of the Māori Fisheries Settlement and fisheries management in general.

What I want us to address today is fundamentally, why are we here? What makes us who we are?

We are kaitiaki. As such, we have a responsibility to past and future generations.

As a wise man once said, Maori have two things in their favour – immortality and memory. Now just think about that.

The fisheries settlement was the beginning of a collective iwi economic awakening and revitalisation for Maori.

If the settlement is worth anything at all, it’s worth fighting for.

The Fisheries Settlement isn’t done, it isn’t in the past. It confirmed an ongoing relationship between the Crown and iwi over fisheries matters.

It’s everyone’s responsibility to be firm and hold the line. To consider how we might collaborate and cooperate on a scale not seen in our history. To have confidence in our collective capabilities. Hence our theme today.

Such an approach has been reflected in the Māori Fisheries Strategy put forward by Te Ohu Kaimoana in February.

If you haven’t read it is required reading for anyone active in the seafood industry.

We envisage it being the start of a discussion amongst iwi about how we collectively move forward in fishing and management of the marine environment.

Included in our thinking is that iwi need an acknowledgement from the Crown that the management of the marine environment must be done in conjunction with its Treaty partner.

Riding roughshod over these agreements and making unilateral decisions that affect our future, are to be met with strenuous objection. Which is to say, in Ngāpuhi vernacular (lingo) a punch up.

Before I finish, I would like to thank our generous sponsors – Moana New Zealand and Sealord, owned by iwi and who continue to be our principal sponsors. Westpac has joined us again as a major sponsor. They have a strong relationship with both Te Ohu Kaimoana and the other Māori Fisheries Settlement entities.

I also thank Wai Māori Trust, Oceanlaw, Kahui Legal, Ngāpuhi, Tohu Wines, Tutu Cider, Cloudy Bay Clams, and Ngāi Tahu Seafood, for the Bluff Oysters that will be on the menu tonight.

And I want to thank all of you here today for giving this hui your support. And I do hope you enjoy your day. Kia ora.

Kia ora Tatou. It is my pleasure to welcome you to this year’s Māori Fisheries Conference.


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