July 27th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Maori fishing quota holders will be exempt from legislation designed to protect migrant workers on foreign chartered vessels from exploitation.

The seven-year exemption has been attacked as “privileged” by Act MP John Banks but defended as essential by the iwi involved.

I’m with John Banks on this. Some FCVs have been little more than slave ships, and it is repugnant we have allowed it to continue. I was very proud of the decision by the Government to require vessels which fish NZ quota to be flagged in NZ – which means NZ law will apply to them.

But the transition period should and must be the same for all.

Ngapuhi’s Sonny Tau, who is the spokesman for iwi chairmen around the country on the issue, said the 2020 exemption was essential because without it Maori fishing interests guaranteed under the Sealords deal would be severely devalued.

Not a single iwi could afford to buy a ship, which was why fishing ventures with foreign vessels were key, Mr Tau said.

“If you reduce the capacity and you take out foreign chartered vessels in this country … that will … drive down quota prices. It will become uneconomic for a lot of the smaller iwi to even open an office to be involved in fishing.”

The purpose of the fisheries settlement was to allow Iwi to develop fishing jobs, skills and income. Not to sub-contract the quota to slave ships.

Different industries have a variety of favourable and unfavourable market conditions. Fishing is no different.

Under the law change, NZ quota can still be fished by foreign crewed vessels. They just must be flagged in NZ.  Under current NZ law they were required to pay NZ minimum pay rates anyway so in theory the flagging in NZ should not increase the costs – unless the FCVs have been breaking the law (which is clear)

65 Iwi offered a chance to *purchase* shares

October 17th, 2012 at 2:55 pm by David Farrar

Bill English and Chris Finlayson have announced:

Iwi groups yet to complete their Treaty settlements will be offered the opportunity to participate in the Government share offer programme, Finance Minister Bill English and Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson say.

“This is a result of our constructive engagement with Iwi leaders and their technical advisers,” the ministers say. “It is another example of how direct engagement with the Crown can produce pragmatic solutions that provide an opportunity for more New Zealanders to participate in the share floats and support Iwi and the Crown to settle historic Treaty claims.” …

As a result of today’s announcement, Iwi yet to settle their claims can choose to receive a percentage of their forecast settlement package “on account” in the form of shares in the Government share offer companies. Mr Finlayson says “on-account” arrangements were not new for Iwi in negotiations with the Crown. The facility has been used by many Iwi in the past.  They must pay the full issue price and any amount drawn down will be deducted from the final settlement.

This is the key point. All shares will be purchased at the same price as other New Zealand buyers.

Effectively what the Government has done is say some Iwi already have negotiated a settlement, while some have not concluded their negotiations – so we’ll allow those not yet concluded to purchase shares in advance of their final settlement.

They are limiting the amount they can purchase to around 10% of their likely settlement, so there is no danger of any share purchase being greater than the actual settlement.

“It does not change the total amount of Treaty settlements. It simply allows Iwi more flexibility about how their settlement money is invested, and we believe it will enhance the share offer programme,” Mr Finlayson says.

A key point also. There will be no extra money for share purchases. It is just basically a credit facility.

Mr English says the actual amount to be advanced as on-account payments for shares will depend on the level of take-up by Iwi. The Treasury estimates that if all Iwi take up their full entitlement, this will amount to $145 million over the entire Government share offer programme.

“Even if all Iwi take up their full entitlement and allocate all of it to the Mighty River Power share offer alone, it would still represent less than 5 per cent of the shares of Mighty River Power,” Mr English says.

I hope many Iwi do purchase shares. As a permanent part of NZ, Iwi owning shares will help keep more of them in NZ ownership.

Iwi on Marine and Coastal Area Bill

December 1st, 2010 at 8:58 am by David Farrar

Assistant Deputy Vice-Chief Political Editor Claire Trevett reports in the Herald:

Maori opposition to the new foreshore and seabed bill is increasing, with South Island iwi Ngai Tahu saying it would rather keep the 2004 act than give Maori support to a 2011 version which was equally unjust.

Ngai Tahu representatives spoke before the Maori Affairs select committee in Christchurch yesterday, saying that while the Marine and Coastal Area bill was an improvement on the Foreshore and Seabed Act, it would leave most iwi and hapu no better off because the tests required to have customary title and rights recognised were unfair and too high.

The test required for customary title is not designed by politicians – it is the test that the Court of Appeal said was required under the law.

Ngai Tahu are right that under that test, they would gain little, if any, customary title.

But they are now arguing not for having their legal rights restored, but for Parliament to give them greater rights than the Court of Appeal said they had.

Ngai Tahu’s submission quotes the iwi’s kaiwhakahaere, Mark Solomon, as saying it would be better to leave it to future generations to take up the battle of fixing the injustices caused by the 2004 Act “rather than shouldering the burden of a history that alleges Maori support for a 2011 Act that is equally as unjust”.

They may have a very very long wait. I can not imagine either major party ever wanting to go beyond what the Court of Appeal found, in terms of eligibility for customary title.

The iwi’s stance is a turnaround from initial support for the bill from Mr Solomon as part of the Iwi Leaders Forum which was consulted when the bill was developed.

Not exactly good faith it appears to me.

Ngai Tahu said the test for title and rights should be based on Maori custom and the intensity of each iwi’s relationship with the coastline, rather than on exclusive use and occupation of the coastline.

That is a valid view. But it is not the law of the land, as decided by the Court of Appeal.

Ngati Tama and Te Atiawa were among the Te Tau Ihu iwi which applied to the Maori Land Court seeking title of the foreshore and seabed in 1997 – a move which led to the Court of Appeal’s Ngati Apa decision that iwi could test their title in court, and, as a result, the 2004 Act vesting the foreshore in Crown ownership which iwi were so opposed to.

Yesterday, Te Atiawa rejected the bill that was supposed to rectify that, saying the tests were “unreasonably high” and if they were not changed, it should not go ahead.

Again the tests were set by the Court of Appeal. No Government would dare go beyond what the Court of Appeal found in relation to customary title.They want the rules changed to favour them – understandable, but unjustified from a public policy viewpoint.

Maori Seats look set for a no

August 24th, 2009 at 9:35 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Cabinet is expected to reject Maori seats on the Auckland Super City council today.

This is no real surprise. It is in line with National’s long standing policy, and the Government’s initial decision.

Blair M in comments in a previous thread suggested as a compromise a non-voting Councillor, and this is an option which I think could have been worth pursuing, and might even have application for local bodies beyond Auckland.

The Royal Commission proposed three Maori seats – two from voters on the Maori electoral roll and one appointed by mana whenua – the local Iwi effectively.

Now I have never been a fan of separate electoral rolls, despite the good intentions of those who back them. I think it is unhealthy long-term to have New Zealanders divided up into those with some Maori ancestry (no matter how small) and those without. Especially as long-term over a quarter of New Zealanders will have some Maori ancestry. It becomes arbitrary. And long-term I fear we end up like Fiji with the population split 50/50 and divided on our differences instead of united.

The idea of mana whenua representation on the Auckland Council holds greater appeal to me (and to the Maori Party it seems). Iwi are permanent entities that have historical and ongoing legitimate interest in what happens on their traditional lands. They do have legal rights under the common law, let alone any moral obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi.

However allowing Iwi to appoint a voting Councillor runs contrary to democratic principles. You may have half a dozen Kaumata deciding on a Councillor who gets the same voting power as someone elected by 80,000 people. So I can’t support a voting mana whenua Councillor.

The compromise which I think would have been worth pursuing is the idea that local Iwi within a Council’s area can appoint a non voting Councillor. The Councillor has all the same rights as an elected Councillor – attend all meetings, speak on any issue, be paid a salary, request information from management – but in the (hopefully) relatively rare cases where there is a partisan vote split, they would not have a vote.

The members of the Iwi would have their voting represention done through the elected Councillors (whom they vote for like everyone else), but the Iwi as a whole would have the ability to have a voice at Council (not buried in a seperate Committee) to protect their interests as the original mana whenua.

One of the issues New Zealand has never really grappled with, is the constitutional relationship between Iwi and the Crown. It seems to me the idea of allowing each Iwi to appoint a non-voting Councillor onto their local authority could be a significant step forward.

Where a local authority has more than say three local Iwi, then perhaps you would require the Iwi to select just three representatives between themselves (or even two). So if there are two local Iwi, they each appoint a non voting Councillor. If there were six local Iwi, they would decide amongt themselves on two or three non voting Councillors.

Solomon on Iwi economy

August 8th, 2009 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dominion Post reports on a speech by Mark Solomon to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce where he signals Iwi wish to be partners for the Crown in Public/Private Partenrships (PPPs) and even possibly minority investors in SOEs.

I was at the breakfast address, and thought it was an excellent speech that had several aspects worth considering. From his speech:

It’s a simple fact, but a vitally important one when thinking about Iwi Maori – WE ARE HERE FOREVER!

We are as much part of the landscape as the mountains and the lakes – our people will always be here, our focus will always be here and our money will remain here.

It seems like an obvious statement, but if you contemplate it for a minute, extrapolate an investment out over generation, after generation, after generation, after generation, after generation… you begin to see the power of the statement and get an insight into the vision of Maori investment.

I had not considered this before, but Solomon is right about the long-term future. Most companies are here for a limited duration and/or get sold, merged etc. Iwi as local investors will be here permanently, and as most of their investment will be in local companies and institutions they will over time be very major economic forces.

According the Te Puni Kokiri – the Ministry of Maori Development – the total commercial assets owned in 2005/2006 by Maori individuals, whanau, hapu and Iwi stood at $16.5billion – a massive increase of $7.5 billion from 2001.

This represented 1.5% of the reported value of the total New Zealand business sector.

And that percentage will grow over time.

The Ngai Tahu Settlement was a platform for the creation of our future, on our own terms.

The quantum we were offered was not fair or just. Treasury acknowledged our land assets alone in 1998 value would have ranged from $12b to $15b.

But, we voted to accept just $170m – cut our losses, move forward and build a future for our people. …

Ngai Tahu Holdings Limited, our commercial entity, is today worth $606m, with equity of $473m and more than 500 employees through our companies.

Growth from $170 millon to $473 million in a decade is a result many would like.

Iwi Maori are diversifying their investments, but for Ngāi Tahu as an intergenerational investor we take a deliberate and conservative approach – for us, like many Iwi, the next wave will be infrastructure.

Iwi investment in infrastructure will be good for Iwi wanting a more conservative investment.

And we have big plans.

We see further public/private/Iwi partnerships.

Perhaps on roads, airports and other strategic infrastructure. It is not impossible to imagine Iwi as cornerstone shareholders in State-Owned Enterprises – making them State-Iwi Owned Enterprises.

While any investment has to stand up on commercial grounds, the political aspect is intriguing, Labour could find it very hard to demonise PPPs and minority investment in SOEs, where the investors are Iwi, not multinational companies.

It just makes sense, if you think about it. Iwi will have the resources, we want our profits to stay in New Zealand – to reinvest for our people, for New Zealand Inc.

We are the perfect partner for Government. And they are well aware of our thoughts on this matter.

This could be a very interesting area to watch.