May 31, 2015
Iwi gather to fillet fish settlement
Iwi will this week decide on whether to wind up the organisation that has paid their rent for the past quarter century.
At a special meeting in Wellington on Thursday, they will be asked to vote on the recommendations of a review of Maori fisheries settlement structures.
The review was included in the small print of the Maori Fisheries Act to give iwi a chance to tidy up anything that might not be working a decade after the act was passed.
But the person chosen to do the review, Wellington barrister Tim Castle, used it to attack the concept of having a national pan-Maori organisation looking after Maori rights and interests in fisheries.
His first recommendation was that the Maori fisheries settlement trust, Te Ohu Kaimoana, be wound up and its assets transferred to iwi.
Despite Mr Castle’s lofty legal expertise, a legal opinion obtained by an iwi work group considering his report was that this recommendation went further than the legislation allowed.
The iwi work group has recommended the resolution be voted down.
However, the prospect of an asset grab proved seductive.
The group recommended Te Ohu Kaimoana hand over to iwi the 20 percent of income shares it holds in pan-Maori fishing company Aotearoa Fisheries, as well as the voting shares that allows it to choose directors.
If this is accepted, iwi will spend the next year working out how to fund Te Ohu Kaimoana in future and what sort of policy and advocacy work it will be left to do.
The Castle report also called for Te Putea Whakatupu Trust, which funded education, training and economic development, be restructured to link it more formally to urban Maori and national Maori organisations.
The iwi working group has sidestepped this approach, with its resolution just asking for the number of trustees to increase to five, with three or more being a quorum.
Currently all three trustees must be present for decisions to be made.
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