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Treaty Tribes Submission Presentation Speech

Hon Parekura Horomia
Minister of Maori Affairs

19 September 2000

Thank you for being here today.

It is an opportunity to receive and hear your submission to amend the Maori Fisheries Act.

I know that you are keen, like many others, to resolve the impasse on allocation issues.

All of us here today are concerned that it has taken so long to implement the Maori Fisheries Settlement.

Some here today were here in 1992 to sign the Deed of Settlement.

You have a commitment based on years of experience and work and want to see this matter through.

The question remains what are we going to do about it.

Treaty Tribes have been diligent lobbyists, raising issues in the public debate, initiating research and going out to stakeholder groups.

Your work will form an important element to the pathway that must be forged to resolve these issues.

I received a lot of advice on whether or not I should be available to receive your submission today.

Some of that advice was based on a concern that my being here today might send the wrong signals to different interests in the allocation debate.

Advisors were concerned that my presence and willingness to receive your submission might be seen as evidence that I was firmly in one camp of the allocation debate.

With all the litigation that has been swirling about I can understand why some of my advisers are sensitive about public perceptions.

But I have never been one to shirk these occasions. I have always been prepared to turn up, to hear the issues and to receive submissions.

I was constrained in recent months, completing a process that three previous Ministers of Maori Affairs were not able to complete.

But with the appointment of the new Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission, I can now turn my attention toward the broader debate on Maori Fisheries issues.

I hope my presence today signals that this government wants to be informed on these issues.

We want to play an appropriate role.

It signals that we take your views seriously as a major stakeholder in the current debate.

So I am grateful for your submission. I accept it and will read it. I will hand on your submission to my Cabinet colleagues too.

I will also pass your submission on to the newly-appointed Commission, Te Ohu Kaimoana and ask for their views.

Why? Because the Commission has an important role under the current legislation.

That role is to develop proposals on the distribution of the benefits of the Maori fisheries settlement, to consult with Maori and to report to government.

Having just appointed the new Commission, it is appropriate that we let it carry out the important role of bringing the various parties together.

I am confident that the new Commission can make a difference.

I am confident that it can build upon the current opportunity where those involved in litigation are genuinely willing to review their strategies….. and possibly even step away from the courts.

Indeed I hosted an important meeting a couple of weeks ago where leaders on both sides of the debate recognised their respective responsibilities to work toward common solutions.

Earlier this year Cabinet agreed that it would monitor closely the progress of the Commission on allocation issues.

I am sure that the Treaty Tribes submission and its research on the opportunity costs of delays in allocation will form an important element in any considerations.

Today is an opportunity for the Government and Opposition to work together and I would like to thank my Parliamentary colleague, the Honourable Doug Kidd for agreeing to co-host this occasion.

I think that it is a good sign that we can co-operate on this important issue.

Thank you for coming. Thank you for your commitment.

No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena rawa atu koutou katoa.

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