Maori aquaculture settlement signed

Tuesday 7 October 2008, 6:39PM
By Hon Jim Anderton

 Iwi Maori and the Crown have reached an early agreement over resolution of ‘pre-commencement' (1992-2004) aquaculture interests in the South Island and the Coromandel, Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton announced today.

The Agreement in Principle is for a one-off cash payment of $97 million in full and final settlement of the current Crown obligations for "pre-commencement space" or aquaculture space that was approved between 21 September 1992 and 31 December 2004 under the previous marine farming regime.

This agreement in principle covers the vast majority of New Zealand's aquaculture development areas including the Marlborough Sounds, Tasman Bay, and Hauraki Gulf along with the rest of the South Island.

The agreement was reached between Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton, Treaty Negotiations Minister Michael Cullen, Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia and leaders representing the iwi of Hauraki, Ngati Apa ki Te Ra To, Ngati Koata, Ngati Kuia, Ngati Rarua, Ngai Tahu, Ngati Tama, Ngati Toa, Rangitane and Te Ati Awa (Te Tau Ihu).

Representatives of the Crown and iwi will sign the Agreement in Principle at a later date after a planned signing at midday today in Parliament was called off because of the closure of Wellington Airport.

Jim Anderton said settling claims for commercial aquaculture space would give the aquaculture industry certainty.

"This has to be good for the aquaculture industry and for Maori.

"Aquaculture is a growth industry and has great potential for employment and investment opportunities for Maori. A cash settlement will provide iwi with the means to get into the business of aquaculture or make the choice to invest elsewhere. A cash settlement gives that flexibility."

Richard Bradley (Rangitane) said that iwi had been waiting since 2004 for these obligations to be satisfied.

"With no new aquaculture space being developed, iwi would have had to wait another five years to receive the financial equivalent. In effect, this agreement brings delivery of that forward by five years, it's a significant move that will allow Maori in these regions to participate at various levels in an important industry.

"This is not a new settlement, it simply consists of giving effect to the Settlement reached in 2004, but what is very pleasing is that the Crown came to iwi and invited us to put up a proposal for early completion and together in cooperation we found a solution."

The Act obliged the Crown to provide iwi, before 2014, with the equivalent of 20% of existing aquaculture space (called "pre-commencement space") created between 21 September 1992 and 31 December 2004. That equivalent could take the form of a percentage of new aquaculture space, marine farming permits purchased by the Crown for the purpose or the financial equivalent value. With the first two options looking unlikely, iwi faced the prospect of waiting until 2014 to receive the financial equivalent.

The Act also provided iwi with 20% of all new aquaculture space created from 1 January 2005. New space will continue to be dealt with under the Act as it arises. This agreement only covers pre-commencement space, but this represents the most challenging aspect of the Crown's obligations under the Act.

Matiu Rei (Ngati Toa) acknowledged the Crown's commitment to give practical and meaningful effect to Treaty Settlements.

"Collectively we commend the Crown for acting in good faith and the efforts of the Minister of Fisheries to invite iwi to present a proposal and then work with us to reach a satisfactory agreement. We consider this to represent a commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi and reflects the importance of Treaty Settlements. It also demonstrates the shared commitment by iwi and the Crown to unlocking the potential of the aquaculture industry."

Harry Mikaere (Hauraki Maori Trust Board) said the agreement was fair and reasonable, being based on industry realities.

"The key baseline in reaching the agreement has been ‘What would it take to buy space in the market?

"The deal will withstand scrutiny. The valuation methodology provided a rigorous process with solid data, a consistent approach to good economic theory and an enduring valuation methodology. The fact that it is grounded in the realities of the aquaculture industry we owe in large part to the support and assistance of Te Ohu Kaimoana (Trustee of the Mori Commercial Aquaculture Trust) and industry leaders."

Coromandel, Marlborough and Tasman represent New Zealand's highest value marine farming regions and are most suited for development. While there is not a great deal of aquaculture in the rest of the South Island, the negotiations provided an opportunity for Ngai Tahu to support iwi from the top of the South Island and to settle the remainder of the South Island, which has limited space and productivity.

While some of the iwi already have commercial interests in aquaculture, the agreement means that all can now invest in the development of the industry.

Matiu Rei said the aquaculture industry had set itself a target of having $1 billion turnover per annum by 2025, and iwi saw this agreement as allowing iwi in key regions to play their part in growing the industry.

This settlement enhances the ability of Maori to participate in an industry that will bring significant benefits to the nation. It also decreases the fiscal uncertainty of doing the agreement in 2014.

Mark Solomon (Ngai Tahu) said the most satisfying aspect about this agreement has been seeing all of the iwi of Te Waipounamu working together.

"The majority of the immediate benefits flow to iwi at the top of the south, but over the longer term, we will all benefit from being able to put this issue behind us and get on with developing our people."

With the signing of the Agreement In Principal parties will now work toward a Deed that will allow for legislation to be introduced to Parliament next year.

More information on the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Settlement is available on the Ministry of Fisheries website at this link: