Speech at the signing of the Southland Regional Aquaculture Agreement

It is a privilege to represent the Crown in this ceremony which concludes seven years’ work to deliver aquaculture settlement obligations.

I acknowledge all those involved. From the board room negotiations, to weathering the heavy swells of Foveaux Strait to find suitable space; and all the conversations and decisions in between.

Yet, while the formal agreement process now concludes, this event marks the beginning of a more exciting phase; a journey in which the Crown whole heartedly supports Ngāi Tahu’s aquaculture aspirations.

Aquaculture is a growth priority for the Government, not only because of its economic potential, but for its ability to support our communities through meaningful employment.

For Murihiku, this is critical as the local economy transitions away from industries of the past, toward the carbon neutral future we must build together.

The settlement therefore aligns well with our support for a just transition for Murihiku.

This venture, alongside Ngāi Tahu’s larger Hananui salmon farm application, have the potential to deliver great benefits to the people of Ngāi Tahu and Murihiku.

The moment we are sharing today represents the beginning of an opportunity for Ngāi Tahu to further its role as kaitiaki, and build its portfolio as a leader in producing sustainable kaimoana.

Aquaculture settlement

I now turn briefly to the Aquaculture Settlement.

The Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement arose from interconnected events that cast a light on Māori rights to aquaculture.

Fundamentally, the concept of sustainable aquaculture is not a new concept for Te Ao Māori. Te Ao Māori is innately sustainable.

The aquaculture settlement recognises the rights and interests of Māori to undertake aquaculture within their rohe moana. These rights are based within whakapapa, rangatiratanga, mana, and kaitiakitanga.

The Aquaculture Settlement therefore seeks to make up for the constraints that have existed on Māori involvement in aquaculture. This and other regional agreements are important steps in rectifying this.

Crown support for aquaculture

Moving beyond the formal requirements of settlement, the Government’s Aquaculture Strategy commits to delivering settlement in a way that meaningfully ensures Māori can make the most of their settlement assets.

We as the Crown are making our intentions clear that we want settlement to be a pathway to iwi undertaking aquaculture.

To this end we will work with iwi to identify how we can deliver the settlement more effectively to smooth this pathway.

Through this, our vision is that Māori will be at the heart of the success of the aquaculture industry.

The agreement we will sign today is a step toward realising that vision.

Conclusion

To conclude, let this be the beginning of a journey for Ngāi Tahu. And let the Crown support that journey so that the people of Ngāi Tahu and Murihiku thrive for centuries to come.