Update on the Māori Fisheries Amendment Bill

9 Poutū-te-rangi 2023

This afternoon the Māori Affairs Select Committee has opened for submissions on the Māori Fisheries Amendment Bill. The window for responses will close on 13 April 2023. More information is available below.

Refresher on the purpose of the Māori Fisheries Amendment Bill (MFA Bill) and the process to date

The MFA Bill is progressing through the process of becoming legislation. The MFA Bill makes changes to the Māori Fisheries Act 2004, as part of the statutory review process that began in 2015. These changes intend to give iwi a greater degree of rangatiratanga over their assets, improve benefits to all Māori, and improve efficiency.

In August 2022, Te Ohu Kaimoana presented an update on the MFA Bill amendments to iwi, and information presented at that hui can be found here.

Further to the above resource, a link to the parliamentary website which tracks the progression of the MFA Bill can be found here.

Please see this link for an explanation on how a Bill becomes law. Further information explaining the legislation process can be found here.

A link to a copy to the MFA Bill can be found here.

Māori Fisheries Amendment Bill Developments

First Reading

On 8 March 2023 the MFA Bill had its first reading in Parliament and received unanimous support from all political parties for its passage to Select Committee. Having passed its first reading the MFA Bill was then referred to the Māori Affairs Select Committee.

The Select Committee process

A Select Committee reviews proposed legislation in detail and provides a report to Parliament with relevant and useful information. Please see this link for an explanation on the select committee submission process.

Māori Affairs Select Committee now accepting submissions

Part of the Select Committee process involves receiving submissions on the bill from the public. As noted above, this afternoon the Māori Affairs Select Committee has now opened the consultation window for submissions until 13 April 2023.

To make a submission or to find out more click here.

Providing responses to the Select Committee

While you are able to submit on all and any parts of the Bill, Arena Williams (MP, Deputy Chair – Māori Affairs Select Committee) indicated the Committee is interested in submissions relating to the following 5 points:

1) The removal of Te Kawai Taumata, and its replacement of one iwi one vote system.

2) The distribution of Te Ohu surplus funds; the Committee is interested in the process leading to what is currently reflected in the MFA Bill.

3) The Select Committee wants to ensure the policy intent behind Aotearoa Fisheries Limited requiring 75% threshold to enable decisions for collective buy in reflects moving closer to rangatiratanga for iwi

4) The change in distributing funds to charitable entities. The Select Committee want the proposed amendments provide a future for commercial iwi structures.

5) The process of the MFA Bill itself. The Select Committee want to know the extent of the Crown’s engagement with iwi.

Support from Te Ohu Kaimoana and upcoming activity

Review of the MFA Bill against Iwi resolutions

Te Ohu Kaimoana has commissioned David Cochrane of Cochrane Advisory to undertake an independent legal and policy review of the MFA Bill. The review was to determine whether the amendments in the MFA Bill give effect to the iwi resolutions that were determined from the statutory review undertaken of the fisheries settlement entities in 2015-16.

David Cochrane has provided this report to Te Ohu Kaimoana, and we are now circulating this to iwi to assist your understanding of the key changes within this Bill, and to provide useful information for those who are considering providing an independent response to the Select Committee.

A link to David Cochrane’s report can be accessed here.

Te Ohu Kaimoana’s response to the Select Committee

Te Ohu Kaimoana will be providing a response on the MFA Bill to the Select Committee and we want to encourage all iwi to actively particulate in this process. This response will be drafted and finalised alongside iwi.

We expected that the timeframe for engagement in the Select Committee process would be short and focused, and as noted by Arena Williams (MP) at the time of the MFA Bill’s first reading, the Select Committee is committed to prioritising the progression of this Bill through the House. This has been confirmed with the close date for responses being announced as 13 April 2023.

In light of this, Te Ohu Kaimoana has put together an ambitious timeline for the production of our response:

  • 17 March: We will circulate key points of our response to iwi.
  • 20 – 24 March: A draft response will be drafted and circulated for feedback.
  • 27 – 31 March: Te Ohu Kaimoana will be in touch with iwi individually for feedback and comments on the content and position of the draft response.
  • 27 – 31 March: concurrently with the above step, Te Ohu will be scheduling online hui for iwi to attend virtually and provide feedback or to simply discuss considerations of the Bill. Further information on these online hui will follow this pānui.
  • 3 – 6 April: Te Ohu will be incorporating feedback from iwi, and completing an internal review with an aim for lodging the response at the end of this week.
  • 6 April: Submitting Te Ohu’s response to the Select Committee and sharing final copy with iwi.

If you would like to discuss this kaupapa directly with Te Ohu Kaimahi, you are welcome to contact Brianna at brianna.boxall@teohu.maori.nz