Matau a Maui Maori Fisheries Conference
27th - 28 th February 2006
This speech was given
to the hui on Monday 27th February 2006 by Sonny Tau
Grateful for this
opportunity to address our most important conference today.
What a task it is
to follow Manuka as he traverses the cosmos to find a balance
for us as we face up to the reality of having interests in
all three categories of fisheries in Aotearoa and finally
realising that all is not what it seems.
today is centred on the law and how it is being ignored to
the detriment of Maori.
Purpose of the Fisheries
(1) The purpose of this
Act is to provide for the utilisation of fisheries resources while
(2) In this Act –
"Ensuring sustainability" means:
the potential of fisheries resources to meet the reasonable foreseeable
needs of future generations, and
remedying, or mitigating any adverse effect of fishing on the
Utilisation means conserving,
using, enhancing, and developing fisheries resources to enable people
to provide for their social, economic and cultural wellbeing.
I argue that this is not
the case in many fisheries in this country. That overfishing in
many of the commercial only fisheries has led to major problems
in those fisheries - orange roughy. When this kind of mismanagement
occurs in shared fisheries the repercussions are felt by the entire
Maori have substantial interests
in all three categories of fishing. Commercial, customary and most
of all recreational.
Maori commercial fishing
interests have been addressed through the Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries
Claims) Settlement Act 1992. Unlike pakeha, Maori are strapped in
to their commercial fishing interests. The level of that activity
will continue to fluctuate with the availability of fish stocks.
Not surprisingly, when Ngapuhi are quizzed about the priority placed
on each category of our fishing interests, by and large commercial
inevitably comes last. One typical comment is, "we want kai
on our tables before any Chinese, Japanese or anyone else.
Certainly before exporting for crayfish bait to Australia."
The true figures of the customary
harvest are unknown as there is no legal requirement to report these
figures, so allowances made for this category of fishing is based
purely on speculation and guess work. Our customary fisheries interests
are taken care of under the Customary Fisheries Regulations 1998
and what is known as regulation 27, which is basically the issuing
of permits. Let us not get our customary fishing rights confused
with fishing to feed our whanau. Remember that when we go fishing
for a kai, that is categorised as recreational fishing.
The customary tools we have
available to us are already under severe attack from industry.
Mataitai-the God send for looking after local Tauranga ika, are
subject to a "race for space" with DoC
pouring millions of dollars into securing "no take forever
marine reserves" at the expense of hapu having opportunity
to deliver Kaitiakitanga. Some of these reserves are over our best
traditional fishing grounds.
Even worse, those hapu who do get
their act together and apply for mataitai come up against a wall
of ignorance. The public have not been kept informed and draw all
sorts of conclusions about the intent of Maori to manage important
traditional fisheries. There is more – we now realise the
threat of legal action hangs over the roll out of mataitai –
not from the public but from commercial fishing interests, including
Maori. Again, we find ourselves getting kicked around – this
political football must stop NOW.
Industry have created in
their minds a powerful right to quota which they will defend with
whatever they have at their disposal. This usually ends up in court.
Our own AFL is using arguments with Government that could undermine
these rights. I wonder if they have spoken to other iwi about
these debates, they have certainly not sought feedback from Ngapuhi
on the matter of customary rights. All iwi chairs hooked into our
chairs network would have read the letter sent to the Minister aided
by a senior employee of AFL. We own that company, why are we not
informed? On that subject I will wait for our iwi chairs hui later
in the week to make some suggestions of how to address that.
I am uncomfortable
with the word recreational, as my mother taught me never to
play with my food, which is what the word connotates.
However, as stated
before, 99.99% of the time Maori go fishing to feed our whanau,
we are categorised as recreational fishers.
So it is only natural
that we spend a lot of our time and energy ensuring this area
of our non-commercial fishing interests are protected and
Sonny Tau with a glorious
snapper caught in the Bay of Islands
The Ministry of Fisheries
has acknowledged this point in the Shared Fisheries Policy
Development report to the Minister dated 16 December 2005.
Much, if not most, of their [Maori] day to day non-commercial
fishing is carried out under the amateur, rather than customary,
fishing regulations. In this context, improvements in the
management of recreational fisheries can contribute to Maori
interests in fishing."
So despite Te Tiriti
O Waitangi and our article two and three rights, we are no
different to the general public when fishing to feed the whanau.
I believe we don't want to be any different to the general
public in this sense, however, over the last fourteen years
we have been so single mindedly focussed on finding balance
in an allocation model that not much energy and nowhere near
enough resources have been spent looking at this particular
area of our fisheries interests.
Conflict of interests
Ministry are quick to highlight
the conflict that exists between commercial and recreational fishers.
While this does exist in some fisheries, the true conflict for Maori
- the mismanagement of our fisheries by the Ministry
- the mis-allocation of those fisheries resourses between each
- the interpretations of the Fisheries Act.
Until these problems are
addressed the needs of our future generations will not be met, as
per the purpose of the Fisheries Act. Ngapuhi, being the largest
iwi in the country and growing, want to ensure our tamariki have
kaimoana on their tables to feed our mokopuna and especially to
manaaki our Manuhiri. As we all know, kaimoana is one of the highest
mana enhancing mechanism known to the Maori psyche.
Section 21 of the Fisheries
Act is an important piece of legislation for Maori. I do not
have the full section inserted here but I concentrate on sections
one and two:
Matters to be taken
into account in setting or varying any total allowable commercial
- In setting or varying
any total allowable commercial catch the Minister shall have regard
to the total allowable catch for that stock and shall allow for-
- The following non-commercial fishing interests in that
- Maori customary non-commercial fishing interests;
- Recreational interests; and
- All other mortality
to that stock caused by fishing.
Therefore the conflict is with the
Ministry of Fisheries and the Minister. Hence the need to challenge
their mismanagement of our shared fisheries. Te Runanga A Iwi O
Ngapuhi have resolved to support the Kahawai
Legal Challenge and have filed an affidavit in support of the
Statement of Claim. It is very important Maori are seen to be supportive
of this case as it challenges the powers of unilateral decision
making, as well as clarifying once and for all the preference issue
currently being hotly debated.
The key objectives of the
Court proceedings are to:
- Ensure that "more fish are left in the sea", so there
is a return to better fish catch rates; and
- Clarify the Minister of Fisheries' decision-making powers for
amateur and recreational fish species.
The Fisheries Act 1996 Section
12 reads as follows
- Consultation – (1) Before doing anything under any of
sections 11 (1), 11(4), 11A (1), 13 (1), 13 (4), 13 (7), 14 (1),
14 (3), 14 (6), 14B (1), 15 (1), and 15 (2) of this Act or recommending
the making of an Order in Council under section 13 (9) or section
14 (8) or section 14A (1) of this Act the Minister shall:
- Consult with such persons or organisations as the Minister considers
are representative of those classes of persons having an interest
in the stock or the effects of fishing on the aquatic environment
in the area concerned, including Maori,
environmental, commercial and recreational interests; and
- Provide for the input and participation of tangata whenua having:
- A non-commercial interest
in the stock concerned: or
- An interest in the effects of fishing on the aquatic environment
in the area concerned – and have particular regard to
The Minister is further
directed in Section 21 to "allow for"
non-commercial fishing interests. We know "shall allow
for" means he must allow for our interests. What
is not obvious is what our non-commercial fishing interests are.
Well, at the very least, those non-commercial interests in important
shared fisheries must surely be healthy fish stocks – first
Clearly the law directs that
fisheries be managed at or above Bmsy (Section 13). We are not happy
with inappropriate long drawn out rebuild time frames. For
example , the fisheries management decisions made
last year in Snapper 8 would suggest Ministry are comfortable with
30 or 40 year rebuild time frames. Snapper 8 was "fished
down" by commercial interests in the 70's and 80's
using methods that were simply devastating to the stocks. When the
QMS was introduced in 1986 the biomass was estimated to be as low
as 4% of virgin stock size. 20 years later the stock has rebuilt
to about 12% - we are told Bmsy is about 25% - we are only halfway
back to what the law states is the target stock level.
Then I read Aotearoa Fisheries
Ltd reporting in their interim report
strong anecdotal evidence
from fisherman and fishing operators who believe the fishery has
recovered and is now producing strongly at acceptable
Acceptable to who? Certainly
not the old fellow standing on the beach trying to catch a fish
for his mokopuna.
The proportional reduction
in the Snapper 8 management decision effectively transfers the cost
of historical overfishing by the commercial sector over to non-commercial
interests. This is not fair, nor will it help to build the all important
public confidence and support in the QMS if it is to truly be a
" worlds best practice fisheries management regime,"
it is being touted to be on the world stage.
Remember, we Maori are strapped in
to the commercial interest. Unlike many of the pakeha players who
have benefited hugely and then sold out, it is Maori who bear the
brunt of rebuilding and manging our fisheries into the future.
I am grateful for the
effort recreational fishing representatives have made to advocate
for our non-commercial fishing interests.
I have to admit that
my understanding of these very complex issues was pretty limited.
We have now had the
benefit of 5 hui and a similar number of presentations to
our Runanga Board or takiwa meetings.
|I continue to be surprised at the depth of understanding
and engagement they have achieved
on such limited resourses.
option4, New Zealand
Big Game Fishing Council and the New Zealand Recreational
Fishing Council really do have a great deal to offer Maori.
In particular, option4. These
people have accumulated a remarkable record of the fisheries management
processes over the past 6 years. Their submissions are produced
by a team whose unflagging commitment is tough to keep up with.
They offer this matauranga to anyone who wishes to understand these
complex matters. They are Tohunga in this field.
I am grateful to Ngahiwi
for allowing Scott Macindoe to follow me with his presentation as
he has much to offer. Scott will hopefully flesh out a few points
that I may have not covered adequately.
I want to close by leaving
you with a summary of points I have raised in the body of my korero
as points for us to ponder as we seek to better understand and provide
Kaitiakitanga ki nga tamariki a Tangaroa.
- The law is clear; Section 8 (1)-The purpose
of this Act is to provide for the utilisation of fisheries resources
while ensuring sustainability. In many fisheries this is not
the case. SNA8, GMU1.
- Section 12(b) Provide for the input and participation
of tangata whenua having:
- A non-commercial interest in
the stock concerned:
- An interest in the effects of fishing on the aquatic environment
in the area concerned – and have particular regard to
Kaitiakitanga. Have Ministry provided for real input and
participation to any iwi in Aotearoa? I don't think so.
- Section 13, clearly the law directs that fisheries be managed
at or above Bmsy. SNA8, GMU1
- Maori have substantial interests in all three categories of
fishing. Commercial, customary and most of all recreational. There
is no debate here!
- Maori commercial fishing interests have been addressed through
the Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act 1992.
Unlike pakeha, Maori are strapped in to their commercial fishing
- 99.99% of the time Maori go fishing to feed the whanau, they
are categorised as recreational fishers. Let us protect this
most important aspect of our fishing interests.
There is an ancient saying
of our Tupuna when referring to the creation or the pathway to knowledge:
" na te kore
ki te Po, na te po ki te Ao, na te Ao ki te Ao marama."
From nothingness to
darkness, from darkness to light, from light to enlightenment.
I hope I have taken you on a journey not dissimilar to that espoused
by our Tupuna when seeking out truth, knowledge then enlightenment.
May we understand our
fiduciary obligation to our people in delivering timely and accurate
information for their digestion. With the right information and
good process they will continue to follow and support us as their