Parliament passes Aquaculture Bill

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Parliament passed the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Amendment Bill last night (Radio NZ). This follows on from an Act passed in 2004, which provided for full and final settlement of Maori commercial aquaculture interests since 1992. The Government says it was based on Maori getting a share of new aquaculture space, but that new marine farming didn’t eventuate.

MarineFarmingFNgai Tahu representatives were in Parliament to mark the final step in the formal agreement with the Crown over pre-commencement (1992-2004) aquaculture interests in Te Waipounamu (the South Island) and the Hauraki Gulf.

The third reading of the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement (Regional Agreements) Amendment Bill took place 24 March. A series of amendments to the Act give effect to an Agreement in Principle signed in October 2008 and the subsequent Deed of Settlement signed in May last year.

The Maori Party welcomed the amendments to the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004 which provide the Crown with an additional option for complying with its aquaculture pre-commencement space obligation. In particular, this Bill incorporates provisions into the Act to deal with regional agreements.

Ngai Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Mark Solomon acknowledged the role of all involved, particularly the role of Te Tau Ihu iwi in bringing the settlement to fruition.

The agreement marks historical level of cooperation between the iwi of Hauraki, Ngati Apa ki Te Ra To, Ngati Koata, Ngati Kuia, Ngati Rarua, Ngai Tahu, Ngati Tama, Ngati Toa, Rangitane and Te Ati Awa (Te Tau Ihu). The iwi worked together prior to 2009 to develop a fair estimate of their entitlements in respect of pre-commencement space.

In 2004 the Crown agreed to provide iwi with the equivalent of 20% of pre-commencement space” being space first made available for aquaculture between 21 September 1992 and 31 December 2004. That equivalent could take the form of a percentage of new aquaculture space, marine farming permits purchased by the Crown for the purpose, or the financial equivalent value. In 2008, there was acknowledgement from the Crown that it would have to pay the financial equivalent in a number of regions.

Mark Solomon says the signing of the Deed of Settlement at Te Papa last year was a joyous occasion, and that although todays third reading would be a quieter affair, it was reassuring to know that the final step in the process was being completed.

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