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NZRFC Hui Presentation


Hui Presentation


August 2005



Whakamaharatanga Marae Hui

Paper given at the Whakamaharatanga Marae 29-30 August 2005.

By Keith Ingram


NZ Recreational Fishing Council


Kia ora koutou

It is my pleasure to be with you today and to join you in the important discussions you have planned for this hui.

But first I would like to extend greetings to you all from the NZ Recreational Fishing Council, my Councillors and our members.

In doing so I must first acknowledge all the ancestors of this fine marae. I am humbled to be in their presence.

I would also acknowledge our hosts and the extended whanau who are part of this marae.

I would also acknowledge all of those present and look forward to hearing your discussions and learning from your wisdom as we seek a way forward.

I would like to acknowledge Sonny Tau and in particular his papers he presented at the recent NZRFC conference in Wellington. In doing so I recognise that some of what I say, may well have been covered in a previous hui of which I unfortunately could not attend. However I believe it is important to retrace some key historic steps as we start to move forward in one waka.

Birth rights effect all New Zealanders

Yes we do as New Zealanders all share a birth right! One conveniently ignored by officials and frequently forgotten by the Crown. One that is contained within Article III of the Te-Tiriti-O- Waitangi 1840.

But first.

Who is the NZ Recreational Fishing Council?

First established in 1978, after the then Minister of Fisheries Duncan McIntyre, who in his frustrations of trying to deal with a fragmented dysfunctional group of recreational fishing interests said,

" I do not have time to talk with every interest group about individual sector concerns on amateur fishing interests and regulations. Get yourselves sorted out and when you can speak with one cohesive representative voice then come and see me and I will ensure your voice is heard ".

So the building blocks of cooperation, consensus and policies were laid and this Council was formed. To this day the Council is underpinned by

its National affiliates, Iwi affiliations, regional organisations, clubs and members.

Since those early days this Council has continued to serve our members and by default the wider fishing public in an effort to ensure that we may all enjoy free access to, and use of, sustainable marine fisheries for both food and fun. The critical word here is free!   For it is this basic philosophy that has become the Achilles heel of this Council. No-one wants to pay! We constantly struggle for sustainable funding.

Even with these restrictions the RFC has endured the passage of time. Unfortunately the Crown has until recently, consistently failed to recognise the true value it receives from this Council's contribution to fisheries research and management processes and continues to deprive our sector of adequate funding and support.

Governments have failed to contribute in any significant way to the true costs of our representation and advocacy on behalf the public sector, be it by way of contract for service or otherwise.

During this time we have made strong attempts to engage with Tangata whenua only to see the wheels fall off along the way.

I believe in the past we have, for whatever reasons, often missed the boat in the consultation process in that we did not secure our public rights on behalf of all New Zealand amateur fishers, during the time of or after the establishment of the quota management system.

In defence, I don't recall or believe that on any occasion the Crown or its agencies, MAF or MFish, ever consulted with the non commercial sector on the subject of the pending quota management system or its implications and effects on the existing rights of the people of New Zealand.

They didn't even consult with Maori, who had clear traditional rights to the fishery. So why should they consult us the public of New Zealand?

Maori, realising that they were in threat of losing their birth right, lodged their claims under the Treaty of Waitangi. For a short time we were part of that process as New Zealanders. However there was an identified risk to Government policy. So as the NZ Recreational Fishing Council lobbied the Crown on the QMS eroding the publics rights, it was successfully split away from Maori with the promise in the 1989 policy document that lead us to believe the Government would look after the people of New Zealand. Unfortunately, in hindsight this did not happen.

The next strong move came in the mid 1990s when past president Bob Burstall in association with respected iwi leaders, the late Rangariri Harris, "Arawa" and Leatrice Smith "Tai Tokorau" supported by Trevor Howes "Ngai Tahu" and Jimmy Ilkington "Ngati Koata" succeeded in arranging a meeting with various iwi in Rotorua. From this gathering the Rotorua accord was written and the constitution of the NZRFC was changed to facilitate Iwi groups and the Councils added objective (d) was subsequently adopted unanimously.

"To act in a manner consistent with the Te-Tiriti-O-Waitangi 1840 and the objectives of the National Policy for recreational fishers as adopted by the NZRFC"

The four winds was born into our constitution with Tangata whenua being accorded full voting rights of Council.


How does the RFC now give effect to this commitment?

The Council recognises the customary rights of Tangata whenua. Rights that prior to the introduction of the QMS were never brought into question. It could be said that we all shared these rights but the quota management system changed all that.

We equally recognises the rights of all New Zealanders to fish for food or fun and in doing so expects the Crown to uphold the principles given in the 1989 policy statement or more commonly known as the Moyle promise.

The corner stone of the policy states:

"One of the first national objectives is: To ensure recreational users have access to a reasonable share of fisheries resources. Government's position is clear. Where a species of fish is not sufficiently abundant to support both commercial and non commercial fishing, preference will be given to the non commercial fishing. This position reflects the Government's resolve of the day to ensure all New Zealanders can enjoy and benefit from our fisheries".

I do not wish to state the obvious but when Maori are not fishing under a customary right and permit, they are fishing as all New Zealanders do under the recreational fishing regulations.

Sonny advised us at our conference that for 99.999.% of the time Maori fish for food to feed their families under the amateur or recreational fishing regulations. This fact may well have come as a bit of a shock for Maori and you have a right to feel aggrieved.

Might I suggest that it is this loss of the same right, we as tauiwi feel aggrieved.

If this is the case then we all need to be walking the talk to the same tune. Until recently the Crown has been reluctant to allow this to happen. They have maintained the view on all occasions when we have questioned the Ministry. That it will be they the Ministry who will communicate with the Treaty partner.  

So where did this leave us the accepted recreational fishing representative? We have constantly fought to uphold our members and the wider public rights of access to our marine fisheries.

The commercial fishing industry would have us convinced we have no rights and unfortunately there is some truth in this. Many of the rights we believe we had, while historic are not clearly defined in law.

We all know, we do, in fact, all have rights. It's just that we maybe having difficulty in identifying our position of claim to our rights as New Zealander's. Yes, we do have traditional fishing rights alongside Maori. We have been exercising them for over a 150 years.

How do we claim these rights. Remember all we have in the Fisheries Act 1996 is that the Minister "shall allow for". I believe we should look to the foundation document of this Country for the answers, the Te-Tiriti-O-Waitangi 1840.

New Zealand was founded on an agreement which continues today as a pact of partnership between Maori and pakeha. It is an agreement which established our continuing links with the Crown. An agreement which continues to act as a national symbol of unity and understanding between cultures.

Today, the Treaty continues as a living document. A focus for all New Zealanders to consider its ongoing role for our nation and in partnership between our cultures, today and in the future.

Chief Judge Eddie Durie of the Maori land courts said: " the principles of the Treaty are not diminished by time, rather it takes time to perfect them".

In 1987 the Court of Appeal was required to consider the principles of relevance of the Treaty of Waitangi. A special full court of five judges unanimously confirmed the partnership established by the Treaty and the duty of both Maori and Pakeha to act, "reasonably and in good faith towards each other".

Chief Justice Eddie Durie also stated,  "but then we must not forget that the Treaty is not just a Bill of Rights for Maori, it is a Bill of Rights for Pakeha too. It is the Treaty that gives Pakeha the right to be here. Without the Treaty there would be no lawful authority for Pakeha presence in this part of the South Pacific".

So clearly it is not just a Maori document. It is also our document, for all people of New Zealand. Granted the document is 165 years old, but because of its age and the manner in which it was written, it has proved to have stood the test of time. Its openness for interpretation has been clearly demonstrated by the complexity of the claims by Maori against the Crown under article two of the Treaty. The results of which are now history.

During the time of the introduction of the quota management system, the Treaty Settlement Act and the new Fisheries Act 1996, the non commercial sector were confident in their belief that the Government would hold sacrosanct the rights of the New Zealand public to have continued unimpeded access to a reasonable share of the publics national resource, our fisheries.

Unfortunately this is not the case as we have experienced, additional quota claims, over fishing, dumping and theft, all of which has impacted on eroding our rights as the people of New Zealand.

I believe it is now time we as the people of New Zealand who fish under the amateur regulations to start to exercise our rights as determined under Article III of the Treaty.

Remember with the passing of time and the mixing of many cultures, we are all New Zealanders.

Remember also, that the courts have determined, the Treaty is now a living document and as such must be interpreted, in a manner appropriate with the passage of time. This has already been demonstrated in the Maori claims settled thus far.

So when questioned, just what is our rights? I say we do in fact, have a birthright, a right to fish for food and fun. When we look at the extent. I believe this Government, the Minister of Fisheries is duty bound when setting any Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC), in that he must ensure the public of New Zealand have not only reasonable access to the fishery but in all realism, as amateurs, we should feel confident that we are able to catch a feed for our families on any given outing.

In his recent announcement the Minister David Benson-Pope said that he wanted to move key fisheries of importance to recreational fishers (and that includes Maori) to above BMSY.

Therefore I believe it is important that as we develop our discussions to find a way forward in seeking a better management of our important inshore fish stocks.

It is imperative that we close the gaps in communication.

We need to remove the separate discussion policy as promoted by the Ministry. The Ministry of Fisheries should be in the role of facilitator to ensure that in keeping with our Article III right, we can secure the on going access and fishing rights for all New Zealanders, to take seafood to feed their babies irrespective of their heritage.

Above all, we need to get aboard the same waka and paddle in the same direction as we move forward.

Tena koutou tena koutou

Tena tatou katoa



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