Treaty Strategy and Obligations to Māori
The Treaty Strategy provides a framework for the Crown and tangata whenua to work together to provide for sustainable utilisation of fisheries resources, with the Crown meeting the range of fisheries obligations it has to Māori.
One of the Crown’s obligations is to provide for the input and participation of tangata whenua in sustainability decisions. In July 2008 the Ministry released a paper to support a discussion with tangata whenua on improving processes for their participation. There was concern that existing processes did not support tangata whenua to bring together and balance their non-commercial and commercial fisheries objectives, but rather, left this task to the Crown.
The Ministry had discussions with tangata whenua at hui around the country. Feedback confirmed broad support for developing processes which could bring together views of iwi and hapū to provide input into sustainability processes on their commercial and non-commercial fisheries interests and allow a more proactive expression of their view of kaitiakitanga. The Ministry resolved to work with tangata whenua to strengthen participation processes so they provide for this.
Following consultation, the Ministry also agreed to work on a more explicit articulation of the overall Treaty Strategy. This articulation will take into account the direction provided by the Fisheries 2030 strategy, and the changes made as part of the Organisational Design Review. It will provide the basis for ensuring Ministry resources are being deployed as effectively as possible to deliver on the Crown’s fisheries obligations to Māori.
The Office of Treaty Settlements (OTS) is the lead agency for the negotiation of historical Treaty claims. The Ministry actively participates in the settlement process and supports OTS in the development of fisheries redress as part of the cultural redress offers made to claimant groups. Although the 1992 Fisheries Deed of Settlement and its supporting legislation addressed all Māori claims relating to fishing, most iwi consider that some recognition must be made in individual historical Treaty settlements of the cultural importance of fisheries.
The commitments developed by the Ministry in individual settlements are aimed at building the relationship between the Ministry and the claimant group and allowing for better input and participation by iwi into the fisheries management processes. Fisheries redress included in most historical Treaty settlements usually involves the issuing of a protocol which clarifies the way that the Ministry will assist the relevant iwi to be able to exercise their fishing rights provided by the 1992 Fisheries Settlement.
The Ministry has issued fisheries protocols to 11 claimant groups to date, and a Fisheries Accord to Waikato-Tainui in relation to co-management of the Waikato River. The Ministry is currently involved in negotiations with 20 mandated groups. The Ministry will be working to support the government’s goal to settle the historical Treaty claims of all mandated groups by 2014. OTS anticipates that approximately 60 more settlements are required to settle all outstanding historical claims.