Close to one million spent on Māori commercial fisheries structure review

By Maiki Sherman

Close to a million dollars was the total cost for a report reviewing the Māori commercial fisheries structure.

A figure which has been criticised by a number of people, as well as the main recommendation to get rid of Te Ohu Kaimoana.

The MP for Te Tai Tonga says Te Ohu Kaimoana has landed the big one.

Rino Tirikatene says, “$600,000 for five months work, 135 page pretty half-baked report is unjustified.”

Yes he's talking about the "big bill" of close to a million dollars for a report into the Māori commercial fisheries structure. 

“I don't rate the report, I think it's problematic.  I think it's not well researched in terms of the commercial implications and I think the price tag was just astronomical and unjustified,” says Tirikatene.

Mark Ngata says, “I think what people have to remember is this is an 11 year review, it's had unprecedented response from iwi.

My job was to manage the budget and I think we've done a good job there too.”

Mark Ngata chaired the committee who appointed an independent reviewer to produce the report, barrister Tim Castle.

Ngata says Te Ohu Kaimoana has been putting money aside over the past few years in anticipation for the report which is a statutory obligation under the Māori Fisheries Act 2004.

“I stand by the 900,000 that was the total cost as I said, individual costs I'm not going to go into because those are under confidentiality agreements,” says Ngata.

One of the recommendations of the report is to disestablish Te Ohu Kaimoana.

“We indicate that we want direct accountability now.  That means we want to have the say in terms of who’s appointed to these companies.  We want to be part and parcel of I guess the future strategies of these sorts of things a lot closer than we are at the moment,” says Ngata.

Rino Tirikatene says Te Ohu Kaimoana must remain, if not there'll be rough seas ahead.

Tirikatene says, “Sure there might be improvements and tweaks that we can do to make sure that they perform better and that they're more accountable to iwi.  But throwing out our whole structure is going to be detrimental to our interests and Māori will lose credibility not only in the wider industry but all other stakeholders that we do business with.”

Ngata says, “A lot of new individuals are coming through in a lot of the iwi groups now, accountants, lawyers, and people working within the industry so iwi are a lot more knowledgeable and iwi want to have a say.”

Tomorrow, details will be known regarding the national consultation meetings, where submissions can be made regarding the report.

It's understood a special meeting will be held in May where eligible iwi will vote on the recommendations.