Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Deal restores certainty to aquaculture

The Fisheries Minister says an accelerated settlement of Maori commercial aquaculture claims should restore certainty to the industry.

Jim Anderton says the government has agreed to pay iwi at the top of the South Island and Hauraki $97 million dollars.

That equates to the value of the 20 percent of existing aquaculture space they were due to receive in 2014.

He says the deal was done because there is little prospect of developing new aquaculture space in those regions, which account for 92 percent of the current industry.

“I offered the tribes the opportunity to come to an arrangement and get a cash settlement if they wanted to take that option. Then they could invest in aquaculture in their own right or whatever they wanted and then that would give a lot more stability to the industry going forward, because if we didn’t know what was happening until 2014 things would be a bit more fluid than we'd like,” Mr Anderton says.

The deal should be signed off in Wellington next Monday, weather permitting.

CULTURAL PRODUCT COULD WEATHER ECONOMIC STORM

The chair of the Maori Tourism Council hopes the unique cultural product offered by Maori operators will help them offset the negative effects of a global financial downturn.

John Barrett says estimates tourist numbers may fall by 20 percent means Maori in the sector need to watch their fiscal management.
His increased costs are unlikely to stop international culture seekers traveling.

“Although the economic environment is going to be tight around the globe, people will still earn money and people will still travel. They won’t be traveling to Aotearoa in such huge numbers I don’t think but I really believe our offering is so good and our cultural offering is so good, we won’t suffer as much as some international markets,” Mr Barrett says.

SCHOOLS HAVE ROLE MAINTAINING TRADITIONS

A Maori academic says Maori boarding schools have been an important source of Maori leadership.

Taiarahia Black from Massey University will present a paper to a Maori education conference in Auckland today on his research at Turakina Maori Girls College.

The number of schools has been falling, with St Stephens School and Queen Victoria School shutting their doors at the turn of the decade, and rolls down at the remaining six.

Professor Black says despite the closures, the schools continue to be relevant.

“When we think about things like tradition, these schools present a special type of education for our rangatahi. I’m thinking about Queen Victoria, St Stephens, Te Aute, St Josephs, Hukarere, all of those schools are linked to one forum weaving away to create our own platforms,” Professor Black says.

INVESTMENT SURGE POSSIBLE FROM AQUACULTURE SETTLEMENT

A negotiator for top of the South island iwi says a $97 million aquaculture settlement should lead to a surge of investment in the industry.

The Government has agreed to bring forward a deal settling claims Maori had been shut out of the sector, and because most available space in the main aquaculture areas of Marlborough, Nelson and Hauraki is spoken for, it is offering cash in lieu of the promised 20 percent.

Richard Bradley, the chair of Rangitane and the Kurahaupo claimant group, says the settlement should remove uncertainty and barriers to entry.

“In most cases the iwi have been quite keen to get into aquaculture for some time. My own iwi’s got some water space in Port Underwood and we’re busy talking with our partner about trying to get more, using their rules, so I think in most cases they have been keen to participate in the industry since it first started,” Mr Bradley says.

The settlement includes a robust valuation model for marine space, which should help iwi who do choose to invest in the sector.

LEAGUE LOOKS TO CHANGING TIMES

The new president of the Maori Women's Welfare League says its survival depends on the way it can adapt to the times.

Megan Joe of Ngati Kahungunu, Tuwharetoa and Tuhoe first joined the Otatara branch in Taradale at the age of 13.

As the daughter of a founder member, Marj Joe, she has been around the league all her life.

Ms Joe says while its primary focus remains on the whanau, the organisation needs to use its networks in new ways.

“The way that we further the aims and objectives of Te Roopu Wahine Maori o Toko i te Ora are different today and the circumstances that existed in the 50s and 60s are still the same but now the solutions are different and my job is to encourage and influence the membership,” Ms Joe says.

The Maori Women's Welfare League is involved in a number of social programmes including immunisation and and consumer affairs.

DEMAND STILL FOR TREATY WORKSHOPS

A Christchurch treaty educator says demand for workshops is strong, with participants now coming with a positive attitude.

Robert Consedine, a Pakeha of Irish extraction who stood for the Maori Party in the last election, says resentment about the treaty settlement seems to be dying away.

People want to know more about the Treaty of Waitangi, and he's heavily booked over the next year.

“That demand has certainly increased but certainly the atmosphere is different to what it was five or 10 years ago when people were turning up to workshops often very angry and often hostile to many of the things that were being done,” Mr Consedine says.

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