19 July 2016

HIGH COURT JUDGEMENT ON TE PŪTEA WHAKATUPU TRUST

Te Ohu Kaimoana said it welcomes the judgment from the High Court in respect of decisions taken by iwi over the future governance arrangements of Te Pūtea Whakatupu Trust

The case involving the Māori Fisheries Settlement entity was brought by the National Urban Māori Authority (NUMA) and Te Whānau o Waipareira Trust. 

Te Pūtea Whakatupu Trust was established in 2004 under the Māori Fisheries Act to administer a $20 million fund to promote education, training and research in fisheries, fishing and fisheries-related activities for Māori.  Over a number of years it has implemented various training programmes and handed out scholarships targeted to improve Māori educational achievement and lift workforce participation by Māori.

Following a 2015 review of the governance arrangements of the Māori Fisheries Settlement entities, iwi organisations voted to increase the number of directors on Te Pūtea Whakatupu Trustee Limited from three to a maximum of five.  

The High Court judgment centres on the interpretation of s 88 (2) of the Māori Fisheries Act related to the criteria for appointment of directors to the corporate trustee. The court’s decision clarifies legislative ambiguity relating to the criteria for appointment and Te Ohu will follow the court’s interpretation when making future appointments. 

The Court also found that urban Māori organisations were not provided adequate opportunity to present their views on proposed changes to Te Pūtea Whakatupu Trust through the process of the Iwi Working Group, which was established under the review to provide information and advice to iwi organisations prior to them voting at a Special General Meeting last year. 

Notwithstanding this, the court said the decisions iwi made at the Special General Meeting could be reported to the Minister for Primary Industries, who will also have the benefit of considering the court’s decision. 

Te Ohu will look at how it will re-engage with urban Māori groups in respect of the proposed changes and these issues will be worked through in the coming weeks. 

Download High Court judgement (PDF - 3.5MB)

Download Summary of High Court judgement (PDF - 318kb)