at the Whakamaharatanga Marae 29-30 August 2005.
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
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.
Who is the NZ Recreational
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
"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 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
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
"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
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
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
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
Tena koutou tena koutou
Tena tatou katoa