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Maori Fisheries Settlement legislation introduced

Maori Fisheries Settlement legislation introduced

Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson has introduced legislation that will give effect to the agreed model for allocating Maori Fisheries Settlement assets.

The Maori Fisheries Bill 2003 contains the legal foundations for the allocation of settlement assets as proposed by the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission in its report He Kawai Amokura, presented to the Government on 9 May this year.

"It is cause for celebration that this Bill is finally before the House," Mr Hodgson said. This legislation follows more than 10 years of discussion and debate amongst Maori. Its passage will begin a new era of Maori participation in the fishing industry, enabling the beneficiaries of the 1992 Fisheries Settlement to receive the assets and use them for the economic and social benefit of all Maori. This is a settlement worth more than $700 million, more than all other Treaty settlements combined."

In line with the model developed by the Commission, the Bill provides for approximately half of the settlement assets to be allocated directly to iwi and for the remaining assets, mostly company shares, to be centrally managed on behalf of iwi.

It also provides for the establishment of a series of new entities required by the model, including two specialist trusts, to promote education and training for Maori and to advance Maori freshwater fishing interests.

"This Bill has the support of the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission," Mr Hodgson said. "Perhaps inevitably, the allocation model does not command universal support amongst Maori. It is nevertheless a remarkable achievement, given the history of this issue. More than 90 percent of iwi agreed that the model should be presented to the Government."

"Parliament now has the opportunity bring the 1992 Deed of Settlement to a conclusion and usher in a new era of opportunity for Maori in the fishing industry."

Mr Hodgson said he would be asking Parliament to refer the Bill to a special select committee, whose membership will be determined in consultation with Parliamentary parties.

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