5 Apr 2012

New marine protection law adds to injustice - Moriori leader

6:45 am on 5 April 2012

Moriori leader Maui Solomon says he has little faith in planned new marine protection legislation, which he describes as a further attempt to erode Chatham Islanders' rights over their natural resources.

The Hokotehi Moriori Trust Board is one of the 129 organisations that have made submissions to the Select Committee overseeing the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf Environmental Effects Bill.

Mr Solomon says the bill locks in the 1840 rule, which effectively excludes Moriori from claiming customary marine title before that date because northern Taranaki tribes took control of their tribal estates from 1835 onwards, and they were left with 2.7% of their ancestral whenua.

And he says when it comes to generating revenue, the Chathams only gets a fraction of the more than $250 million it returns to the Government through fishing and taxes.

He says Moriori see the EEZ bill as an attempt to further erode or to exploit resources and the profits made from them, a small share of which remain on the island to rebuild the Chatham's economy and infrastructure.

Mr Solomon says while New Zealand sends about $20 million per year to Niue, which is part of the realm of New Zealand, the Chathams community feels it's being neglected and receives only about $2 million.

He says he made a strong submission last year to the Foreshore and Seabed Bill and no changes were made.

Mr Solomon says the EEZ bill just adds to the injustice - potentially creating new grievances.

He says Moriori are not specifically recognised under the bill because they don't consider themselves to be 'another Maori tribe'.