Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill

Wednesday 24 September 2008, 9:09PM
By Hone Harawira

I was really pleased when Rahui Katene, Maori Party Member of the House of Te Tai Tonga, proudly told me about Nelson’s Wakatu Incorporation, who’ve just released plans for a 78 hectare Horoirangi Centre of Seafood and Aquaculture Innovation, which will include fingerling fish hatcheries, high value extraction and aquaculture research facilities, and complementary activities including seafood and marine education and Maori cultural tourism, and I congratulate Wakatu for their vision, their leadership, and their enterprise in the face of adversity.

I say that because although we know well the tremendous commercial opportunities that can come from aquaculture, we know too that the iwi from Te Tau Ihu have not exactly had a lot of support from the Government.

The crux of the matter for Te Tau Ihu is that although they were promised 20% of new aquaculture space, there’s nothing left, so they got nothing and they were forced to pursue a cash settlement because the government refused to offer them anything at all.

All that aside though, this Bill will be important for iwi wanting to get into aquaculture, and define what areas will be available – aquaculture management areas (AMAs), although we also note that this Bill will stop iwi from developing aquaculture projects outside of AMAs like Te Tau Ihu did in 2006.

We understand the need to clarify how AMAs can be established, and we’re glad that the Bill confirms obligations to provide new space to iwi, but we won’t be holding our breath waiting for that to happen anytime soon, given the fact that although the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act was passed in 2004, the agreement to provide iwi with 20% of aquaculture space simply hasn’t happened.

We’re not surprised to hear though, that all of a sudden government is running a consultation exercise with iwi just prior to the election, about aquaculture space allocation.
What government is not bragging about though, is that what they’re talking about in this consultation exercise is what they were SUPPOSED TO DO in 2004, but now WON’T BE DOING until 2014, if we’re lucky.
We’re also mindful of recent aquaculture consultations which government called a ‘success’, but which cost the taxpayer $180,000 and at some hui only attracted 5 people.
Given how poor the consultation exercises have been to date, and given that this is election campaign time, it wouldn’t be unrealistic for people to think that this was nothing but a publicity spend to profile the government.

Maori Party co-leader summed the situation up perfectly by asking the Minister of Maori Affairs last September: “Since the legislation, can the Minister tell the House how many new aquaculture farms have been established by and for Mori, and where they are?”
The Minister’s response was “None”.

The Maori Party will support the Bill in the interests of trying to get government to honour the Maori Commercial Aquaculture settlement, but we do so mindful of the bad faith, and broken promises that have characterised this government’s commitment to Maori aquaculture development.
Oops, sorry … I apologise. This government did keep one promise to Maori.
They promised to steal our foreshore and seabed, and they did exactly that.