The Māori Party says its support of a Bill that proposes to establish a sanctuary around the Kermadec Islands is not guaranteed.
"We support Te Ohu Kaimoana and iwi for leading a court bid that calls on Government to withdraw its proposal to create a protected marine zone. We also support two other iwi, Ngāti Kuri and Te Aupōuri and their ambition to be on a proposed Kermadec governance board. We should have never been forced to choose sides. This is typical divide and conquer tactics”, says Māori Party Co-leader, Marama Fox.
“The Māori Party will always support iwi rights because they are kaitiaki and aim to protect the environment for future generations. The reality is in this case that Māori with fishing quota rights over Rangitahuahua have already created restrictions on marine activities in the area”, says Māori Party Co-leader, Te Ururoa Flavell.
A negotiator of the 1992 Māori Fisheries Settlement, Sir Tipene O’Regan relayed these points of view to reporters at a press conference yesterday.
He and several other highly regarded Māori leaders held a press conference in support of Te Ohu Kaimoana and its legal challenge.
Marama Fox, who listened to their presentation, says “Tā Tipene O’Regan said the Crown has a duty to at least talk with iwi before making decisions that may impact on the property rights of Māori. The Government has acted unilaterally and been casual in its approach to honour its side of the Treaty settlement.”
The Māori Party supported the 1st reading of the Bill last month but was one of the few parties to raise the issue about the encroachment on Treaty rights.
“We made it clear at the time that we were concerned that establishing a sanctuary could extinguish iwi customary and commercial fishing rights around the Kermadec Islands. We followed this up directly with Environment Minister, Nick Smith, prompting him to meet with iwi leaders”, says Te Ururoa Flavell.
“The Māori Party is urging the Government to ensure it can achieve its environmental goals without breaking its commitment to honouring its treaty obligation to Māori”, says Mr Flavell.