• Nick Smith

The progress made in dealing with the issue of customary use of traditional animals and plants. He was releasing a report prepared on the subject by the New Zealand Conservation Authority, jointly with the MP for Te Tai Tonga and New Zealand First spokesperson on conservation, Tutekawa Wyllie.

"This report Finding Common Ground: He Rapunga Tahitanga, is a another move towards finding areas of common agreement. There are a number of areas where Maori and non-Maori agree on the use of native birds, plants and other traditional materials. There are also areas where we disagree. This report is a further step on the road to resolving this extremely sensitive and important issue."

"There has been significant progress on this issue since the highly polarized debate started in 1993. There is a strong consensus that customary use must not put any of our native species at risk and that the principle of sustainability is paramount. In short, we agree that we can not eat our way to the extinction of our wildlife."

"There is also an expectation that the Wildlife Act needs to give Tangata Whenua lawful ownership of crafted taonga that sustain their culture and traditions. While the details need to be worked through, the process of this document does represent substantial progress in resolving this very sensitive issue. I am confident that with dialogue and mutual respect we can reach agreement on customary use of our native resources."

The New Zealand Conservation Authority report is open for public submissions which close on the 21 November 1997.