Māori fishing rights were guaranteed by the Treaty of Waitangi, taken away by Crown actions, and, along with Māori land rights and other grievances, contested throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Finally, after years of struggle in the courts, through the Waitangi Tribunal and in protests, Māori fishing rights were restored.
The Māori Fisheries Settlement agreed ongoing access to and participation in all fisheries for iwi and Māori.
TE AITANGA A MAHAKI FISHERIES
Te Ohu Kaimoana Chairman Shane Jones congratulating Fisheries Kaitiaki Potatutatu Bill Ruru on the Iwi's achievement.
Gisborne Herald Article
Gisborne tangata whenua, Te Aitanga a Mahaki, was on October 1 2005 one of the first iwi in NZ to receive its interim fisheries allocation worth $2.84 million.
They followed northern iwi Ngapuhi, who received more than $60 million in fisheries assets. The amount of assets each iwi receives depends on its number of members and its total coastline boundary.
Iwi organisations must have registered members as well as appropriate management structures and constitutions.
Te Aitanga a Mahaki Trust chairman Pene Brown said support from its members was overwhelming, with 99 percent approving the trust's mandate.
Under provisions in the Maori Fisheries Act 2004, a mandated organisation must receive at least 75 percent support from its registered members before any transfers of assets can be made by the governing body, Te Ohu Kaimoana (TOKM).
"To get 99 percent was overwhelming we received ballot papers from members all around New Zealand and overseas," said Mr Brown.
"It was a great result for the teams hard work and it means that we are one of the first iwi in New Zealand to receive our fisheries assets," he said.
Fisheries consultant Ian Ruru said the trust had to meet stringent requirements under the Act.
"It meant proving that our election process was fair and inclusive, our structures were robust and transparent, and that the constitutions were sound," he said.
"We made several improvements to our Deed of Trust to meet the requirements of the Act and managed to keep the essence of Mahaki tikanga," said Mr Ruru.
Te Aitanga a Mahaki received a combination of cash, fishing quota and shares in New Zealands largest fishing company, Aotearoa Fisheries Limited (AFL).
The Maori Fisheries Act required that the Trust set up a commercial entity, Te Aitanga a Mahaki Asset Holding Company Ltd to receive their fishing quota and shares in AFL.
TOKM then scrutinised every facet of the trust's activities before giving them approval to proceed.
"It was an arduous task but our iwi members can be confident that their quota is safe and we can start developing their economic base," said trustee Bill Ruru.
INTERIM FISHERIES ALLOCATION
$2.8M is the value placed on the interim fisheries allocation package approximately made up of:
$1.90 million in AFL shares
$0.79 million in Deepwater Quota
$0.15 million in Cash
These assets were received because the Trust met all requirements under the Maori Fisheries Act 2004 to achieve Mandated Iwi Organisation (MIO) status. The remainder of the fisheries allocation (inshore and freshwater quota) will take place once neighbouring iwi become MIO's and agreements can be met.
TRUST DISTRIBUTES $100,000 TO IWI MEMBERS IN 2005
NOVEMBER 6, 2005, HUI A TAU was the day when Te Aitanga a Mahaki Trust announced details of how it will distribute close to $100,000 to its members. "Even though we only received $150,000 in cash from the interim settlement, we believe our people deserve recognition for their support", says Bill Ruru. The Trust has been very prudent in its spending over the years so we are comfortable that we can sustain an extraordinary payment such as this especially given the significance of the milestone.