The Māori Party supports Te Ohu Kaimoana and iwi who are challenging the Government in court for extinguishing customary and commercial fishing rights around the Kermadec Islands.
Māori Party Co-leader Marama Fox says the Māori Fisheries Settlement in 1992 recognised Māori fishing rights and requires the Crown to talk with iwi before making legislative decisions that may impact on their settlement.
“We think the Government has been remiss in not recognising the potential impact on the Treaty rights of all iwi to fisheries in the proposed Kermadec sanctuary. This legal challenge could have been avoided if the Government had engaged with iwi earlier”, says Mrs Fox.
Māori Party Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell says the Māori Party deliberated carefully over its support for the First Reading of the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill last week.
“We support the decision by Ngāti Kurī and Te Aupōuri to be on the governance board for the proposed sanctuary. But we also recognise that 58 iwi have fisheries interests in this region.
“Māori recognise the value of setting aside a marine sanctuary of this nature but the Government must also ensure it honours Treaty settlements in full”, says Mr Flavell.
All political parties supported the First Reading and public submissions will now be heard by the Local Government and Environment Select Committee.
Mrs Fox says while the Environment Minister believes the Kermadec Sanctuary proposal has a negligible impact on the Māori Fisheries Settlement, she welcomes the public submission from Te Ohu Kaimoana and other iwi on the Bill.
“With the Bill still in its early stages, the Māori Party will continue to advocate strongly for the Māori fisheries settlement to be honoured and iwi rights to be recognised.”