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Maori Fisheries Settlement legislation on track

Maori Fisheries Settlement legislation on track

The Government is on track to introduce a Bill before the end of the year to authorise the allocation of Maori Fisheries Settlement assets, says Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson.

New legislation is required to give effect to the allocation model agreed with the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission (TOKM) and to replace the Maori Fisheries Act 1989.

The model proposed by TOKM in He Kawai Amokura was presented to Mr Hodgson in May 2003, following extensive consultation with Maori and iwi organisations over 10 years. Ministers agreed to the model in June, noting that there were some aspects of the model that needed further development to allow drafting to proceed.

Those outstanding aspects included the purpose of the Te Ohu Moana Trust; trustee accountability and revenue management; the effect of restrictions on sale of allocated quota; TOKM rule-making powers; proposed additional functions for TOKM; constitutions and trust deeds; coastline length measurement; Maori Land Court jurisdiction; and technical matters related to Fisheries Act amendments, along with some minor inconsistencies.

Mr Hodgson said that the Government and Commissioners had reached broad agreement on all of these issues and officials were currently finalising the details for each to complete drafting.

A select committee would be asked to consider and call submissions on the issue of first refusal on sale of settlement quota. The Commission is required to develop Trust deeds and constitutions for Te Ohu Kai Moana Trust and its subsidiaries, and make these available before the Bill is introduced to the House. The development of the deeds and constitutions is on track.

Mr Hodgson said the Government had decided that the Maori Land Court would be the avenue for resolution of disputes under the new Bill. This would require an extension of the Maori Land Court's jurisdiction.

"Drafting of the new Bill is due to be completed in November and I expect to introduce the Bill to the House shortly after the drafting is completed," Mr Hodgson said. "Select Committee submissions are likely to be called for soon after that."

Mr Hodgson said the High Court's recent decision in the conjoint fisheries allocation proceedings meant there was no judicial impediment to the allocation model proceeding to Parliament. Justice Paterson dismissed applications for interim orders seeking to prevent the Crown and the Commission from taking further action on the allocation. However, the Court has scheduled an early substantive hearing of the claims against the allocation model beginning 3 November 2003. The Crown will take a full role in defending those proceedings and will monitor the progress of the proceedings as it continues to develop the new Bill.

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