Te Ohu Kai Moana Trust and Te Ohu Kai Moana Trustee Limited were created ultimately out of the Māori Fisheries Settlement 1992 between Māori and the Crown. Te Ohu Kaimoana is the successor to the Māori Fisheries Commission (1989 – 1992) and the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission (1992 – 2004).
Te Ohu Kaimoana was established to advance the interests of Māori in fishing and fisheries-related activities and to return valuable fisheries assets and funds from the Settlement to iwi organisations. The Trust is managed by a corporate trustee, Te Ohu Kai Moana Trustee Limited which is central to administering, protecting and enhancing the Fisheries Settlement to ensure that funds are delivered to iwi and ultimately all Māori.
The Settlement restored Māori property rights and established commercial enterprises, such Aotearoa Fisheries Limited (trading as Moana New Zealand), which in turn is the sole or joint shareholder of a number of New Zealand commercial fishing companies. Through Te Ohu Kaimoana and various Iwi charitable organisations, the fisheries settlement has contributed to the establishment of a sustainable development system for the delivery of economic and social benefits to all Māori. Iwi and Māori have become empowered to develop their own fishing enterprises and activities, as well as contribute to improving the health, welfare and education of communities in their own rohe now and in the future.
Te Ohu Kaimoana has a further role of advocating on behalf of Māori in respect of fisheries matters and the marine environment.
Background to the Māori Fisheries Settlement
Māori customary fishing rights were secured and guaranteed by Article 2 of the Treaty of Waitangi 1840 between Queen Victoria representing the English Crown and Māori tribes.
Over many years Māori claimed the Crown had breached Treaty fishing rights through a series of actions and the introduction of the Quota Management System (QMS) in 1986, which removed statutory recognition of Māori customary rights to fishing and fisheries. Requests for relief and subsequent judgements through the Waitangi Tribunal and the courts prompted the Crown to enter into negotiations with Māori to resolve Treaty fishing claims over commercial fisheries.
In 1989, the Crown and Māori negotiators agreed on an interim settlement, which was given effect by the Māori Fisheries Act 1989. This interim settlement saw the creation of a Māori Fisheries Commission that progressively received 10 percent of all fish species that were in the QMS and approximately $10 million to hold and manage on behalf of all Māori. The commission’s role was also to promote Māori involvement in the business and activity of fishing. Where the Crown was unable to provide the agreed 10 percent of fish species in the QMS, Māori were provided the equivalent value in further cash.
Commercial fishing claims were finally settled with the signing of a Deed of Settlement (the Sealord Deal) in September 1992. This Deed was given effect through the Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act 1992 and saw the creation of the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission, which took over the responsibilities of the Māori Fisheries Commission and enhanced its accountability to Māori.
In the Settlement, the Crown recognised the full extent of Maori customary rights to fishing and fisheries by:
- providing funds for Māori to buy a 50 percent stake in Sealord Products Limited (now Sealord Group Limited) which, as one of the largest fishing companies in New Zealand at the time, was a major owner of fisheries quota;
- undertaking to provide Māori with 20 percent of commercial fishing quota for all new species brought within the QMS,
- undertaking to ensure the appointment of Māori on statutory fisheries bodies, and
- agreeing to make regulations to allow self-management of Māori fishing for communal subsistence and cultural purposes.
In return, Māori agreed:
- that all Māori commercial fishing rights and interests were settled;
- to accept regulations for customary fishing;
- to cease litigation, and
- to endorse the QMS.