Te Ohu Kaimoana – Maori Fisheries Conference 2018

Novotel Hotel, Auckland International Airport

Thursday 28 March 2018, 3.00pm

Thank you for the opportunity to come together with you to celebrate the achievements of Māori in fishing and to explore the future direction of Māori fisheries.

The Māori Fisheries Conference is an important annual fixture that provides for valuable discussion on the opportunities and challenges that apply to Māori in fisheries and aquaculture.

I would like to acknowledge the organisers and sponsors of today’s conference who have put together a great agenda of interesting and important issues.

Fishing is important to the New Zealand economy and our society. It plays an important cultural and recreational role in New Zealand as well as contributing 16,000 jobs and $4.2 billion in total economic activity. The importance of Māori commercial fisheries in contributing to this success cannot be overstated.

Māori (iwi, TOKM and their companies) currently hold about 33% of all quota across a range of fish stocks, equating to approximately $600m in total export revenue in 2017.

The stability and certainty provided by the QMS and the Fisheries Settlement, has  transformed Māori and regional economies by injecting capital and providing a stable income base that has enabled iwi investment in a wider range of activities and businesses. The income stream from fishing also funds iwi social and educational services, which are of high importance to many Māori and the development of regions generally.


The theme for this year’s conference, “Tangaroa-ā-mua: Future Māori Fisheries” is timely. The world is changing rapidly. Fisheries in New Zealand will be different in 3 years and different again in 6 years.

Technological advancements, growing societal awareness of the importance of the marine environment, and changing attitudes to fishing present both challenges and opportunities for Māori fisheries and our fisheries management system.

My vision for fisheries looks to embrace this change, and ensure that fisheries are abundant, sustainable and are well-managed to minimise the impacts on the environment through:

  • improved investment to support evidence-based decision making;
  • iwi and community input, and
  • a strong focus on innovation.

The government has sought greater focus on the fisheries system through the decision to form Fisheries New Zealand. This is an important step towards improving management of New Zealand’s fisheries, but it will take all of us working together to achieve our vision for this important resource.

The creation of Fisheries New Zealand demonstrates a stronger focus on the fisheries system and is an important step towards improving management of New Zealand’s fisheries.

These changes look to increase performance by providing clarity and unity of purpose, enhancing transparency, stakeholder engagement and the prudent and efficient use of taxpayer and industry funds.

I think that change is needed to support a future where our fisheries management system:

  • Fosters confidence by New Zealanders that our fisheries will be sustainably managed and is well placed to meet New Zealanders’ expectations into the future;
  • supports innovative fishing practices,
  • improves decision making processes, and
  • helps us identify and act on opportunities to reduce the environmental impact of fisheries, and maintain New Zealand’s global brand in an increasingly competitive international market place.

I am seeking to ensure we prioritise fisheries management changes that will best position our fisheries to meet the challenges of the future. Input from iwi will be critical to ensuring the best decisions are made. I am committed to ensuring iwi views are fully and accurately understood when decisions are made.

Although the majority of our fisheries are in a good state, there are always opportunities for improvement.

Government’s commitment towards encouraging and supporting sustainability and innovation is a key steps towards achieving this.

Ecosystems approach to fisheries management

I am committed to the sustainability of New Zealand’s fisheries.

NZ has committed to moving towards an ecosystem approach to fisheries management by 2020, as it is one of our targets under the Convention on Biological Diversity.

An ecosystems approach is about adopting an integrated approach to managing the competing uses and values of New Zealand’s fisheries resources and the ecosystems that support them.

We are well set up to achieve an ecosystems approach as many of our fisheries already consider and manage the impacts of fishing on other species, marine habitats and ecosystems, while also providing for New Zealanders’ social, economic, and cultural wellbeing.

This is thanks largely to the Fisheries Act, which requires us to consider many components of an ecosystem based approach to fisheries management.

We also invest significantly in research to better understand these issues and how best to manage them.

When we have asked people for their views on taking an ecosystem approach we have received generally positive feedback, although it is clear that an ecosystem approach means many things to many people.

What is clear is that this type of approach requires broad-based engagement and discussion.

I am aware that there is some discomfort around ecosystems approach and what different interpretations could mean especially for Māori.

However, I consider an ecosystems approach aligns well to the principles of kaitiakitanga, where stronger environmental performance will create increased value and market advantage for our fishing industry, and for iwi who can leverage off a system that ensures beneficial ecosystem and community outcomes.

We need to ensure that further progress along the path of ecosystem based fishery management is well informed by matauranga and tikanga Māori. I can assure you now that the pathway towards this will not affect the Deed of Settlement or rights of tangata whenua, arising from the Deed.

Innovation in Fisheries

Innovation and use of technology in fisheries is also something I am passionate about and extremely supportive of.

Māori seafood businesses are the vanguard of some exciting changes in the sector. You are investing, with the government and others, in new trawling technology. I understand that work on the Precision Seafood Harvesting PGP programme is progressing well, and has the potential to lift value and create sustainable outcomes.

You are investing in new vessels to take advantage of that technology. This is one of the first major changes in harvesting by the seafood sector to take advantage of the rights based system of fishing that is inherent in the New Zealand fisheries management system.

The revitalisation of the Māori fishing fleet is a great example of how investing in innovation and new technologies encourages better environmental outcomes and greater value for the industry.

The launch of the ‘Santy Maria’ for Roger Rawlinson as the first vessel in Moana New Zealand’s $25-30 million fleet renewal project in 2016 was a fantastic achievement. The vessel’s use of cutting edge technology to provide for improved efficiency and productivity as well as minimising the impact of the environment shows commitment to innovation and leadership for the fishing industry to follow.

The proactive and future focused approach that many iwi around Aotearoa are taking to the management of their customary fisheries is also something to be celebrated.

The work undertaken by Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka a Maui Fisheries Forum to usher the management of customary fishing into the digital age, particularly the innovative work in developing the Kohi Kai mobile phone app to enable their kaitiaki to both authorise and monitor the gathering of kaimoana, is a very tangible example.

This sort of innovation shows the willingness of tangata whenua to lead by example in taking responsibility for the management of their fisheries, and that willingness to take responsibility for the stewardship of fisheries resources is something that I’d like to see all fishers in New Zealand more fully embrace.

Digital monitoring

As you are aware, roll out of the first phase of Integrated Electronic Reporting System, now referred to as digital monitoring, has commenced.

This first phase encompasses geospatial position reporting and electronic reporting, which are already live for the deep-water fleet.

I have signalled that any move to rollout cameras on board vessels will not follow the timetable set by the previous government. A new timetable will allow more time to ensure that any technical solution to monitoring on-board activity is both efficient and cost-effective.

I welcome the efforts of MPI, TOKM and the wider industry to look ahead to consider how to make the best use of the data that will be generated, and to ensure it has a place in driving innovation.

Focus on stakeholders

As already noted, this Government has set an ambitious program for the fisheries management system. This government’s manifesto sets out a clear focus of working alongside our Treaty partners and stakeholders from all sectors to provide a collaborative, inclusive fisheries management system that meets the needs of all users.

I am very conscious that any future direction of fisheries requires the input and participation from the people who are clearly involved in and use fisheries.

It is important that Crown and Iwi continue to work together towards realising greater value for all New Zealanders, and ensuring trust and confidence in the management system, now and into the future.

I recently met with the TOKM board and want to acknowledge the ongoing work and relationship with Officials. I expect this to continue and for the views of TOKM, on behalf of iwi, to be clearly represented in advice on policy and strategic matters in fisheries management.

I would like to recognise the significant role TOKM has in ensuring the integrity of the Fisheries Deed of Settlement is maintained.

I would also like to recognise the significant role Iwi Fisheries Forums play in facilitating the input and participation of iwi (and the constituent hapū) into fisheries planning and decision making processes.

Māori Fisheries Act Review

I value the work that TOKM has undertaken to ensure a robust, independent and transparent review process for the Māori Fisheries Act review, and the leadership of consultation on the review findings.

Officials will continue to work with TOKM on the shape of proposals that will go into the legislative process and I expect to progress this to the next stage later this year.

Better information that is transparently presented builds better trust and better engagement. These are critical to the success of fisheries management now and into the future, I expect the Māori Fisheries Act review to fully canvas these issues.

Closing remarks

Thank you once again for inviting me here today. The day’s programme looks very interesting and I am sure it will produce robust conversation. I look forward to working with you all in ensuring a bright future for Māori fisheries.