• John Luxton
Fisheries and Aquaculture

The Minister of Fisheries, Hon John Luxton, today strongly denied that Government had pulled out of negotiations with Maori over customary fishing regulations. Responding to comments by Maori negotiation team member Margaret Mutu, Minister Luxton said her accusations could not be farther from the truth.

``The Government is just as committed and determined to progress customary Maori fishing regulations as it ever was and to suggest otherwise is simply mischievous,'' he said.

Suggestions from the Crown/Maori Working Party that the draft regulations be reviewed by the Waitangi Tribunal were discussed but declined by Cabinet to avoid further delays.

``The Crown wants to finalise the regulations as soon as possible in order to fulfil its obligations under the Fisheries Settlement legislation. To do this means consulting with Iwi and Hapu as well as other interested parties on the content of the regulations before they are passed into law.''

Mr Luxton said for Ms Mutu to suggest that the regulations, that have taken three years to develop, should be discussed only with Maori and not the wider community was inappropriate as well as unhelpful., particularly where they have the potential to impact on the wider community's existing fishing rights.

He said that in any case, the Crown has agreed to take any comments received from the consultation process back to the working party for discussion.

``The Crown and Maori agree on the vast majority of the regulations. However, there are still a small number of sticking points over which the Crown/Maori Working Party could not reach agreement over. This is inevitable given the nature of the regulation development process,'' he said.

``Considerable time and effort has been invested by both Maori and the Crown in the development of these important regulations. The Crown is committed to seeing the regulations - a vital ingredient in ensuring the sustainability of our fisheries resources - are introduced by the end of the year.''