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Guest Editorial Sonny Tau

Guest Editorial in Seafood New Zealand Magazine

by Sonny Tau

November 2005


This article was originally published in the November edition of the Seafood New Zealand magazine

Te Runanga A Iwi O Ngapuhi (TRAION), has seen a major increase in dividends, from $1.3 million last year to $2.6 million this year. Being the largest iwi in Aotearoa with more than 107,000 affiliates, this would not have been achieved without good governance and management. It was definitely a matter of good fishing and good management working hand in hand.

TRAION’s success is due to the 100 percent owned subsidiary company, Ngapuhi Fisheries Limited, who have capitalised on a successful joint venture company, Northland Deepwater JV Limited. That partnership resulted in an income to Ngapuhi of $2.6 million surpassing last year’s record result by $600,000.

The fishing company runs a lean and mean operation by utilising staff and resources of TRAION who have extensive expertise in administering and managing fishing quota. The 50 percent profit share also ensures there is no other company who could out-sail Northland Deepwater when return on investment is measured by Ngapuhi at year’s end.

Compared to deepwater, the inshore quota returns are minimal as it comprises our smaller parcel though TRAION ensures that local Ngapuhi fishermen have first preference with the balance on-leased to larger companies.

Another Ngapuhi initiative successfully trialed last year was the pooling of most northern iwi inshore quota, resulting in maximised collective benefit from this critical mass.

Besides all that, TRAION was triumphant in being the first iwi to receive its share of the fisheries assets held by Te Ohu Kaimoana, despite huge obstacles, like regimental reporting necessities and disproportionate registration requirements of Ngapuhi outlined in the Maori Fisheries Act 2004.

The asset received is valued at $68 million, made up of $20 million in fishing quota, $45 million worth of shares in Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd and $3.8 million in cash. One of the biggest challenges currently facing our board is to manage the heightened expectation of the iwi to directly distribute more of this asset.

The cash has already been invested with Lake Taupo Forestry Trust Fund Ltd, at low risk as directed by the iwi. Ngapuhi Fisheries Ltd has begun the process of repositioning itself to better utilise the slightly increased quota asset with particular focus on the future.

The TRAION board is also firmly focused on the current over-fishing of our shared fisheries. Our major commercial asset, the fishing quota and shares in AFL, will not be worth much if the fisheries continue to be over-fished and held down at unacceptably low stock levels.

To address this issue Ngapuhi have been instrumental in stitching together the Hokianga Accord, a collective of iwi, hapu, whanau, individuals, recreational fishers and all other non-commercial fishing interest groups to discuss with the Ministry of Fisheries how they will provide for input and participation of Tangata Whenua into fisheries management as specified in section 12 of the Fisheries Act 1996. Ngapuhi are adamant that this exercise must be done together with Pakeha and not through segregated regional forums currently being set up and funded by the Ministry of Fisheries.

The governance board of TRAION consists of representatives from seven Takiwa (geographical collective of Marae), and two Taurahere (city dwellers) in Auckland – 60 percent of Ngapuhi are domiciled in Auckland with eight percent in Wellington and four percent in the South Island. Only 16 percent live in the iwi rohe (boundary). A provision for Ngati Hine is available through our new constitution and they are expected to take up this position in the near future.


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