Māori Kermadec rights may be cut

By Heeni Brown

The Fisheries Commission says the government's move to establish a massive ocean sanctuary around the Kermadec Islands is more contentious than the Foreshore and Seabed legislation. The Fisheries Commission and iwi leaders met in Hopuhopu today to further discuss legal action against the government's move.

If the proposed ocean sanctuary around the Kermadecs goes ahead, the Fisheries Commission says the Government would be stripping existing rights Māori already have.

Te Ohu Kaimoana CEO Dion Tuuta said, “What the government's proposing here in many ways is worse than what they did with the 2004 Foreshore and Seabed Act."

The Fisheries Commission and iwi leaders met in Hopuhopu to further discuss legal action against the governments move.

Tuuta says, “In this instance we have rights, we have property rights, we have customary rights we have commercial rights and those are actually being taken away from us without our consent, this is a confiscation of existing rights."

Mana whenua Ngāti Kuri and Te Aupouri support the government around the proposed Kermadec sanctuary but also support Te Ohu Kaimoana's interest to maintain Māori rights.

Ngāti Kuri chairman Harry Burkhart says, “We've supported them to protect the rights and interests compensation, they've taken a view that they have a right to support and be leading the Kermadec Ocean sanctuary of being part of it that's the bit we've got to resolve, our view is rights and interests get us so far."

Tuuta says, "If the government undoes the 1992 fisheries settlement with the actions it’s proposing which it doesn't need to do then it can walk away from any treaty settlement that its negotiated since."

The Fisheries Commission's legal action against the Crown is still before the courts, but are also continuing their discussions with Nick Smith, the Minister responsible for the proposed Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary.