Māori fishing strategy proposal has been welcomed by Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki.

updated By Leah Te Whata

One of three principal iwi in Gisborne, Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki, wants full control over their fishing rights. Lead negotiator Willie Te Aho says the new proposed Māori fishing strategy looks set to support their wishes.

The Māori fishing strategy proposal has been welcomed by Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki.

Willie Te Aho says, “The big thing for us is sovereignty, with sovereignty we can control the issues that affect our people and our region. In regards to fisheries, we will control matters that pertain to the protection of our marine environment and natural surroundings. Ian Ruru is one person that takes care of our marine life and life inland such as eels and other food sources.”

While it is only a draft, it outlines a strategy that aligns well with the Gisborne-based iwi.

Te Aho says, “Indeed, Te Ohu Kaimoana has consulted with us and listened to our wants and hopes. We support this strategy because its theme is the autonomy of iwi. Secondly, the management of matters, the laws that affect us in our region, we will manage them all.”

The proposal is hoped to bring about discussion amongst iwi on how to work collectively in fishing and management of the marine environment.

Chief Executive - Te Ohu Kaimoana Dion Tuuta (Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Tama) says, “The key message of the strategy is that if we wish to be more successful then we should look at greater collaboration rather than going at it alone because although Māori are quite a significant player within the fishing industry we could probably make more advancements if there was greater collaboration."

The Māori fishing industry has been under review for the last couple of years. 58 iwi have recognised interests but Te Ohu Kaimoana says a collaborative approach will bring greater benefits for the Māori economy.

Tuuta says, "If this strategy was picked up and run with by iwi then Aotearoa as a whole would benefit it would give us the scale and influence necessary to look at more innovative ways of doing things and really influence the fishing sector with more Māori world views and perspectives."

The strategy is in draft form awaiting feedback from iwi.