Māori fisheries settlements
Two fisheries settlements in 1989 and 1992 granted Māori control over one-third of New Zealand’s commercial fisheries. The Māori Fisheries Commission was set up in 1989 to aid Māori entry into the fishing industry, and to decide how to allocate fishery assets to tribes. Allocation was hotly debated for over a decade, but was finalised with the passing of the Māori Fisheries Act 2004. Tribal coastline and numbers of members were factored into the allocation of deep-sea fisheries. Half the settlement assets ($300 million in quota) were allocated to tribes, and the assets of the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission – $300 million – were allocated to a new company, Aotearoa Fisheries Limited (AFL).
Aotearoa Fisheries Limited
In 2009 AFL owned Moana Pacific, OPC, Kia Ora Seafoods, Prepared Foods and Pacific Marine Farms, and was the Māori shareholder in the Sealord Group. In 2008 AFL had a net profit of $19 million. Through its subsidiaries and associates, AFL harvested, processed and exported a wide range of fisheries products across the globe in the early 2000s.
The entry of tribes into the commercial fishing industry was limited to the leasing of quota to fishers. Some tribes established fishing operations intended to operate profitably, and also to provide local employment by developing tribal capacity to process and export fisheries products.
Ngāi Tahu Seafood
The South Island tribe Ngāi Tahu has an extensive coastline, and in 2009 Ngāi Tahu Seafood was a large player amongst iwi fishing companies. However it was a small player in the New Zealand seafood industry. Ngāi Tahu Seafood aimed to:
- manage and protect the tribe’s investment in seafood quota
- operate only in niche areas where it could be profitable
- recognise the interests of Ngāi Tahu fishermen and where possible support local economies.
Waikato–Tainui and Ngāi Tahu land settlements
Waikato–Tainui was the first iwi to reach a historical settlement with the Crown for past injustices, in 1995, receiving $170 million in cash or land. Tainui suffered investment setbacks in the years following settlement, before adopting a commercial framework to manage tribal assets. In 2008 Tainui Group Holdings and Waikato–Tainui Fisheries had assets of $496 million, which returned a net surplus of $52.4 million. They paid a dividend in excess of $10 million to their shareholders, for the third year in a row. Strong reinvestment and a commitment to securing a long-term economic future for Waikato–Tainui led to a conservative debt to total assets ratio of 15% in 2008.
In 1998 Ngāi Tahu reached a settlement with the Crown, receiving $170 million in cash or land.
Treaty settlements concluded in the years between 1998 and 2008 have been on a rising plane, worth approximately $500 million by 2009. The single largest settlement was the Central North Island Forests iwi collective, valued at $161 million. The flow-on benefits arising from the transfer of capital in cash or land to iwi through the Treaty settlement process were expected to broaden with time.