16 Jul 2012

Tribunal urged to study fish quota system

10:53 pm on 16 July 2012

A Treaty lawyer is urging the Waitangi Tribunal to examine the creation of the fishing catch quota for Maori before it makes a recommendation on water rights.

The tribunal is hearing an urgent claim from the Maori Council, with lawyers seeking a recommendation that share sales in four state power companies - which have hydro schemes - are postponed.

Multiple witnesses represented by the council have told the tribunal that a water allocation model, similar to the Maori fishing quota, is the way forward.

Haami Piripi, the chair of Te Runanga o Te Rarawa in Northland, says the model works well for allocating and managing commercial fisheries at an iwi and national level.

Mr Piripi says those elements are all part of the water case.

Prime Minister John Key has said repeatedly that in the view of successive governments, no one owns water.

Treaty lawyer Kathy Ertel says no-one owned the fish before the Maori fishing quota model was introduced.

But she says when the Crown created property rights in relation to fish that essentially meant that the Government owned fish.

Ms Ertel says Maori disagreed and it led to a Treaty-based fisheries settlement, with tribes' rights to a share of the quota recognised.