On 11 April 2022, the Māori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Amendment Bill passed into law.

These amendments provide an improved process for allocation of aquaculture assets to iwi in instances where the Act previously prevented this.

We have been working on this kaupapa alongside iwi aquaculture organisations since 2017, and we are thrilled that the Bill is now enacted.

While the amendments were small and mostly technical, they are significant for iwi in regions where the Act has previously prevented Te Ohu Kaimoana from allocating and transferring assets.

What’s changed?

With the passage of the amendments, Te Ohu Kaimoana (as the Trustee of the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Settlement Trust) will have discretion to allocate and transfer aquaculture settlement assets to iwi when:

  • it is clear that all iwi in a region are unable to reach agreement, in accordance with the provisions of the Settlement Act, about how regional aquaculture settlement assets should be allocated among them; or
  • Te Ohu Kaimoana is unable to determine aquaculture settlement allocation entitlements because it has not been able to recognise Iwi Aquaculture Organisations for 1 or more iwi.

In the past, allocation of aquaculture assets to iwi in these two situations has been unable to proceed.

The amendments provide Te Ohu Kaimoana with similar discretion to allocate and transfer aquaculture settlement assets as provided for in section 135 of the Maori Fisheries Act.

Progressive step forward for iwi aquaculture interests

Te Ohu Kaimoana is keen to see iwi receive settlement assets to progress their aquaculture aspirations and contribute into the aquaculture industry.

In effect, this bill will:

  • ensure that iwi can access their aquaculture settlement assets within an appropriate time frame, rather than being held by Te Ohu Kaimoana indefinitely,
  • improve the delivery of the Crown’s aquaculture settlement obligations by enabling those who would like to progress in their settlement to do so; and
  • protect the interests of iwi who do not wish to claim their aquaculture settlement assets; and
  • support iwi aquaculture aspirations as well as further support the growth of the aquaculture industry.

We would like to acknowledge and thank all those who worked on this kaupapa, it is another progressive step in the direction of realising iwi aspirations in the aquaculture space.

Mahi is underway following the Royal Assent of the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Amendment Act and we look forward to supporting iwi through this next chapter.