INDEPENDENT NEWS

A fresh start needed for fisheries settlement

Published: Mon 18 Oct 1999 05:09 PM
'The next government must take over where the Courts have left off, and move quickly and effectively to amend legislation if necessary so that all Maori benefit from the allocation of the fisheries settlement,' Alliance deputy leader and leader of Mana Motuhake said today.
She was responding to the Court of Appeal's ruling today that urban Maori authorities have no claim on Treaty of Waitangi fishing assets.
Urban authorities were appealing against a former High Court ruling which rejected their claim on the proceeds of the fisheries asset.
'Today's ruling was very close - out of five judges, only three voted against the appeal - which shows that it wasn't an easy ruling to make.
'It isn't the fault of the Courts. Their hands are tied. They cannot rule that urban authorities are Iwi, because they are not. And yet it appears under present legislation, only Iwi can be the direct recipients of the proceeds from allocation.
'I have no doubt that the Courts want to be able to give the go-ahead for a fair allocation model which benefits all Maori, whether living in the cities or in their tribal areas. That is the clear mandate under the Deed of Settlement. But under the present system they simply can't.
'When Justice Patterson ruled last year that urban authorities did not qualify as Iwi, he also went on to say that the Fisheries Commission must come up with a way of allocating resources fairly so that all Maori benefit.
'The Commission has patently failed the Courts in that respect.
'Judge Patterson went on to say that if the government of the day is not satisfied '....that the beneficiaries of the settlement are catered for in an appropriate manner...' then the government can intervene with legislation.
''Obv iously a new Labour Alliance government would have to look at that call from some of the highest judges in our land.
'We cannot go into the next century with urban Maori and Iwi still pitted against one another because the process of allocation, set up by the Crown, is flawed.
'I am committed to going back to the source of the problem and fixing it, so that we can get on with the allocation which has been stalled for too long,' said Sandra Lee.

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