News Item

​Fisheries – an area largely misunderstood in NZ

News 19 Apr 2017

Te Ohu Kaimoana (The Maori Fisheries Trust) Chief Executive Officer Dion Tuuta (Ngati Mutunga, Ngati Tama) believes Maori and Pacific can learn and teach each other about fisheries – an area which is integral to both Maori and Pacific cultural tradition.

Last year, Dion (pictured below) took up the role as CEO of Te Ohu Kaimoana, which works to advance Maori interests in fisheries, including customary commercial and customary fisheries, aquaculture and providing policy and fisheries management advice and recommendations to iwi and the wider Maori community.

The organisation was established to manage the fishery quota allocation to iwi after the fisheries settlement in 1992, which divided an allocated 20 percent of all fishing quota among all NZ iwi.

Dion is descended from Ngati Mutunga and Ngati Tama in north Taranaki and began his career as a historian for the Waitangi Tribunal.

He has held a range of roles including Communications Manager, Treaty Negotiator and Iwi General Manager, and he was previously the CEO of Taranaki's largest producer of milk for Fonterra, Parininihi ki Waitotara Incorporation.

A believer in the core values of the Treaty of Waitangi, and of what the fisheries settlement has done for Maori, Dion will take the stage as a guest speaker at the Pacific NZ Fisheries Forum on May 15.

The one-day forum staged at Auckland’s Rydges Hotel and hosted by Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF) in collaboration with Pacific Islands Tuna Industry Association (PITIA), will allow Maori iwi, NZ and Pacific industry leaders, investors, business owners, governments and their officials to exchange their knowledge, experience and innovations in relation to fisheries.

Dion opted to speak at the forum as he feels it is important for Maori to forge closer connections with whanaunga in the Pacific to increase Maori’s understanding of their fisheries context.

“As part of this I also think it is important the Maori perspective of fisheries is understood by our wider Pacific whanaunga,” he says.

“I am interested in understanding the role of Tangaroa in managing fisheries throughout the Pacific - I believe there are things we can learn and there are things we can teach.”

It is essential Maori be represented at the forum and part of the korero, Dion adds.

“Maori have fought long and hard for recognition of the full range of our fisheries rights, which were guaranteed by the Treaty of Waitangi signed in 1840 and the 1992 Fisheries Deed of Settlement, which endorsed New Zealand’s quota management system as the most appropriate way of managing its fisheries.”

Sometimes Maori views and interests may not necessarily align to positions publicly advocated by the NZ Government, but it is important the Maori perspective be shared with the wider Pacific community so our worldview and position is understood more appropriately, Dion says.

He adds that fisheries is generally misunderstood by the NZ public and it is becoming increasingly politicised through the increasing and active influence of non-indigenous groups seeking to control access to the primary resource.

“This process is undermining public trust in New Zealand’s fisheries systems and institutions, and is enabled by society’s fundamental lack of knowledge regarding how fisheries management is undertaken in Aotearoa.”

Delegates attending the forum will be exposed to a range of knowledgeable and influential key-note speakers from the industry including Ambassador for Pacific Economic Development Matua Shane Jones; James Movick, Director General of Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA); PITIA Chairman Frank Wickham; Ngati Whatua Chief Executive Officer and Director, Te Ohu Kaimoana (Maori Fisheries Commission) Rangimarie Hunia; PCF Board member, and Ngati Kahungunu Chair Ngahiwi Toamoana; Solander (Pacific) Director Charles Hufflett; along with Founder and CEO of Alfa Fishing – and Grow Pacific participant Alfred Kalontas.

These speakers, among others, will focus on three themes running throughout the forum - iwi shared-learning on fisheries; investment opportunities in fisheries; and market access.

Forum participants are hopeful for a range of outcomes, and an ideal short-term outcome from the event would be for Maori to become regularly active in the forum as a Pacific people rather than continuing to focus on Aotearoa alone, Dion says.

Another outcome would be for Pacific peoples to begin working towards arriving at an understanding about the most appropriate way of managing the entire Pacific fisheries resources collectively.

At the same time, respecting the mana of each Pacific nation to manage their own fisheries with its unique tikanga and aspirations to protect this taonga for use by current and future generations would be upheld, he adds.

Forum tickets are available at ITICKET now.

The Pacific NZ Fisheries Forum will be followed by PITIA’s AGM on May 16.

Pacific NZ Fisheries Forum(hosted by PCF and PITIA)

Where:Rydges Hotel, Federal Street, Auckland

When:May 15, 2017 (8.30am registration)


Visit Te Ohu Kaimoana for more information about the Maori Fisheries Trust.