Presentation to the Iwi Chairpersons Hui
This speech was given
to the hui on Friday 3rd March 2006 by Sonny Tau
the third American president and an architect by trade,
reminded us that "the price of freedom is eternal
Why then have
we been so silent when armies of bureaucrats are regulating
our freedoms away for nothing in return?
We are indeed
fortunate that some individuals and organisations are keeping
a watchful eye on the antics of some in Government. Maori
need to be ever vigilant if we are ever to hold onto what
our Tupuna fought so hard to retain.
At the inaugural
National iwi chairs hui in Kaikoura, iwi put their hands
up to report back on issues we together saw as critical
to moving Maori forward.
Ngapuhi was tasked with
reporting on Fisheries matters, AMA's and Marine Reserves. After
hearing Te Pare Hauraki present at the Ngati Kahungunu fisheries
conference on AMA's, Ngapuhi bows to Te Pare Hauraki's superior
knowledge in this area and leave that to them.
I will then be
speaking on two subjects, Fisheries matters and Marine Reserves.
Within those two
subjects are many streams of korero that are critical as we
move this Maori Nation forward.
I will give a summary
of these subjects and have put together a package of reference
material that I will refer you to as we go through my korero.
information is the result of many hours of collective effort
by people whose drive and wairua are commendable.
Please study these
documents and ensure the information
is circulated widely.
History of our Fisheries
Access to fisheries, particularly
commercial access, has been a contentious issue for Maori since
the mid 1800s. The first fisheries legislation, the Oyster Fisheries
Act 1866, did not include provision for Maori despite clear evidence
that Maori had a major trade in sales of oysters to the towns. Fisheries
legislation contained provisions supposedly protecting the fisheries
guaranteed to Maori under Te Tiriti O Waitangi, but these protections
were never effective.
Maori fisheries were pushed
into a box labelled "non-commercial". Even though many Maori made
part or all of their income from the fishing industry, in the main
they were not able to access the various state support programmes
which existed from time to time, nor were they able to get access
to capital required to build large enterprises.
Throughout the late 1800s
and up until the 1960s, fisheries policy in New Zealand was characterised
by boom-bust cycles relating to particular species such as rock
lobster, stuttering efforts to create export markets and continued
pressure to provide enough fish for the domestic market.
As the 1987-88 fishing
season approached, the Ministry prepared to unilaterally introduce
further species into the quota management system. The Muriwhenua
claimants objected, asking the Waitangi Tribunal to make some preliminary
findings on their rights. The tribunal issued a memorandum to the
Minister of Fisheries on its preliminary opinions: "that
Muriwhenua iwi made extensive fishing use of the sea to 12 miles
and occasionally fished further out, that they had existing practices
and laws to regulate use of the fisheries, that there was a commercial
component to fishing that was capable of adapting to commercial
uses in western terms, and that the sea was property in the same
way as land." "The evidence is that Maori did
not prevent non-Maori use of the seas for their own domestic purposes
but considered themselves, and must be considered, as retaining
the authority over them."
Presented with these findings,
Justice Greig in the High Court halted the issue of new quota.
Te Tiriti O Waitangi (Fisheries
Settlement) Act 1992 then settled all Maori commercial and non-commercial
fisheries claims. It replaced the Maori Fisheries Commission with
Te Tiriti O Waitangi Fisheries Commission, which as well as continuing
to lease quota, was required to come up with allocation models for
the eventual distribution of quota accumulated between 1988 and
1992 (known as Pre-settlement assets, or PRESA) and the shares in
Sealord and other companies (known as post-settlement assets, or
POSA). They also oversaw negotiations with the Ministry of
Fisheries on developing a management regime for customary fisheries.
Maori Commercial Fishing
interests are clearly taken care of under the various pieces of
legislation which now litter the fisheries landscape. They are very
clear in their direction with the only threat to Maori holding the
value of our iwi fishing assets up, is uncertainty around the sustainable
management of fish stocks.
The thrust then of this
paper is to inform us about threats we face in preserving our continued
ability to catch fish to feed our tamariki in the first instance,
customary next with commercial bringing up the rear.
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, hoki and others. When this kind
of mismanagement occurs in shared fisheries the repercussions are
felt by the entire community.
I begin my reporting
back to you around Maori Fisheries rights and their impediments
news I bring is bad. I believe we have allowed ourselves to
be hoodwinked and are only just realising that fact.
Most Maori believe
that all Maori fishing interests are well catered for under
the deed of settlement.
While it is true
that the commercial settlement is certainly a valuable asset,
it is the customary aspect of the settlement that makes me
very, very uneasy.
I believe that many
Maori do not fully understand what customary fishing means
under the present law.
From 23rd September
1992, fishing as Maori understood it, changed forever.
Before this date when
Maori went fishing we were fishing as we customarily did for centuries.
Once Te Tiriti O Waitangi (Fisheries Settlement) Act 1992 was passed
into law, fishing to feed the whanau became re-categorised as recreational
The Ministry of Fisheries
has acknowledged this point in the Shared Fisheries Policy Development
report to the Minister dated 16 December 2005. They say:
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."
Also of note is the discussion
on customary fishing. MFish refer to the obligation to provide for
the "full extent of customary non-commercial take" as
required by section 21 of the Fisheries Act 1996 and section 10
of the Settlement Act. 
The impact low biomass
levels have had on the quality of fishing for the non-commercial
sector is only mentioned briefly in the customary fishing section
in relation to spatial management and localised depletion of important
customary food sources.
My concern is our customary
rights have been chopped into two sections by the customary part
of our settlement. The smaller part, the right which deals with
Marae functions and other hui, are well protected by the customary
settlement, but it is only of any value if there are sufficient
fish to catch.
Our other customary rights,
the ones we use to feed our whanau, to manaaki-manuhiri, to provide
fish, from our catch, to those unable to catch it for themselves.
All of this, has been forgotten in the rush for maximum advantage
in the allocation of our settlement asset.
There is no doubt that
fish are not as plentiful as they used to be, many of our people
return with little or no catch when they go fishing for kai, most
know things are getting worse rather than better.
We are often told by the
Ministry of Fisheries and those working on behalf of our commercial
interests, that recreational fishing is the cause of this reduction.
That if recreational fishing was better constrained things would
be better for all concerned.
Many of our customary
representatives have bought into this view and continue to condemn
I have to say in hindsight
that we have been making some pretty wild assumptions about recreational
fishing without having all the facts before us. So,
when we condemn recreational fishing, we are in fact, arguing against
ourselves. Maori have the greatest participation rates in recreational
fishing, and, our population is growing 4 times
faster than any other group.
I believe it is only because
we have been so focused on resolving our customary and commercial
settlement as described in statute, that we have been unable to
see the forest for the trees
It is with some embarrassment
I have to say that while we have argued against other recreational
fishers, they have argued strongly in our favour.
Pakeha started six years
ago with a submission to the Soundings process, I have reviewed
much of the prodigious amount of work they have done since then
and their work consistently reflects what Maori most desire from
They strive for healthy
fish stocks so all people can have a reasonable chance to catch
a reasonable kete of fish.
Over the past year and
a half we have work very closely with their leaders, both inside
and outside of the Hokianga Accord. The Hokianga Accord being an
organisation setup by Maori and other non-commercial fishing interests
in answer to the segregated forums that Ministry have set up all
over the country to address non-commercial fishing activities. Through
them, I believe us in the North now have a greater knowledge as
to why our people are often not able to fulfil their customary needs
under the current fisheries management structure.
It started when the Government
broke promises to all non-commercial fishers, including customary,
when the Quota Management System was introduced.
The Promise was made by
the then Minister of Fisheries, Colin Moyle, his
policy statement said,
species of fish is insufficiently abundant to provide for both
commercial and non-commercial use, preference will be given to
Reneging on this promise
created the first injustice and made our fishing for kai, subservient
to commercial fishing.
As time has progressed
the Ministry of Fisheries further altered it's interpretation of
the Fisheries Act and invented, without any consultation, a Proportional
is a blatant attempt to integrate all non-commercial
fishing into the QMS. An inevitable consequence of this policy invention
is that it further penalises those fishing for kai. Recent decisions
like those made for kahawai and west coast snapper are frightening
examples for Maori. Both our customary catch from the Settlement
and our customary catch which is classified as "recreational" has
Let me reflect for a moment
on the insightful definition of integration offered by Norman Kirk
in 1974 when he said in answer to a question in Parliament
"I think the member
for Remuera meant well when he said that we are one people, but
we are not one people; we are one nation. The idea of one people
grew out of the days when fashionable folk talked about integration.
So far as
the majority and the minority are concerned,
integration is precisely what cats do to mice. They integrate
them. The majority swallows up the minority; makes it sacrifice
its culture and traditions and often its belongings to conform
to the traditions and culture of the majority .
I think the member
for Remuera did not mean that when he talked about one people.
We are one nation in which all have equal rights, but we are two
peoples and in no circumstances should we by any law or Act demand
that any part of the New Zealand community should have to give
up its inheritance, its culture, or its identity to play its part
in this nation."
The Ministry are consulting
now on how fisheries should be allocated between commercial and
non-commercial interests. How many of you here today have been briefed
on this most fundamental piece of policy development – few
I suspect – we must ask why we are being kept in the dark.
Dr Robin Connor has been engaged by the Ministry solely for the
purpose of getting this policy in place, whatever the cost.
Allocation in the Fisheries Act is likely to be extremely high on
their list of objectives.
We hold very significant
portions of all fisheries rights. We have about 40% of all commercial
quota, 100% of the customary rights and a fast growing portion of
the recreational catch. Because of this, I am certain Maori are
perfectly placed to determine how fisheries are best managed and
allocated to maximise the benefits we want most.
But I warn you that if
you want to achieve the best outcome, we need to carefully examine
ALL of our rights before we decide.
The booklet I will be
handing out includes a section on Proportional
Allocation and how our "recreational rights," the very rights
we now depend on to feed our families
have been eroded. It is our duty to read it carefully as it is the
right our people most depend on and use in their daily lives.
This issue is, in my view,
equal to the foreshore and seabed confiscation if Ministry succeed
in capping the non-commercial take. For example, if the limit of
that allowance is reached early in a given fishing season, we would
have to wait until the next season to take care of our basic needs
of fish to feed our whanau with the only alternatives being, to
buy quota of commercial operators or buy kai direct from them.
As a matter of interest
I went to the supermarket last Tuesday night in Kaikohe to see first
hand what prices they were asking for kaimoana so I could report
accurately to this hui. Kutai was $4-65c a kg and pipi were at $5-75
a kg. Fish heads were $5-80c per kg with snapper fillets at $29-75c
per kg. If proportional allocation was introduced, as soon as the
non-commercial cap has been reached, those prices will likely increase
making this kai even more unaffordable.
Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act 1992
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