The Iwi Collective Partnership was established in 2010 to collectivise the commercial seafood interests of like-minded Iwi.
Our 15 Iwi Members are representative of the Iwi, hapu and whanau (tribe, sub-tribes and families) who were the original inhabitants and fishers of Aotearoa, New Zealand. Just as they exercised rangatiratanga (authority, control and management) over the moana (sea) and everything within, we aspire to do the same. Their rangatiratanga included the notion of kaitiakitanga, an inherent responsibility to safeguard the health and wellbeing of the fisheries resource while providing food and trade for the people.
The arrival of settlers in the 1700s brought a different philosophy of resource ownership and management. As the settler population expanded so did their desire for land, resources and control. As a result, our communities found themselves, their rangatiratanga and their traditional practices under threat. Our communities resisted and fought to maintain their traditional way of life and to retain control over important resources including fisheries. The reality is that racist legislation like the Oyster Fisheries Act 1886 prohibited Maori participation in fisheries and by the late 1900s our influence and participation was a poor representation of pre-European times. While Maori were represented well as workers and employees, fisheries asset and business ownership was rare.
Introduction of QMS
Fast-forward to 1986 which is when the Government introduced to New Zealand a new fisheries ownership and management regime, the Quota Management System (QMS). The QMS concept was groundbreaking in terms of international fisheries. A fundamental part of the concept required the allocation of private ownership rights in the form of quota shares. Allocation was to be based on commercial fishing history over a minimum threshold. This allocation methodology did not bode well for our communities who were primarily part-time fishers and employees. A number of Maori protest movements emerged claiming that rangatiratanga guaranteed under the Treaty of Waitangi applied to fisheries and the sea, and that the Government had failed to make provision for this within the QMS.
Maori Fisheries Settlement
With the Judiciary beginning to side with Iwi and a growing number of supportive reports from the Waitangi Tribunal like the Muriwhenua Fishing 1988, the Government had to act. A settlement was negotiated whereby Iwi rights would be acknowledged and Iwi would receive fishing assets to underpin successful commercial enterprise. The settlements were covered in two Acts of Parliament, one in 1986 and the other in 1992. However, it wasn’t until a further 12 years that Iwi would receive tangible ownership and recognition when with the passing of the Maori Fisheries Act 2004 specific Iwi commercial interests in the New Zealand fishing industry were formally recognised for the very first time.
The Act allocated Iwi a percentage of all deepsea, inshore, pelagic, highly migratory species and freshwater quota in addition to voting shares in Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd which in turn owns 50% of deepsea company, Sealord. As a result of settlement Iwi now own and control more than a third of the New Zealand fishing industry valued at circa $1 billion. There are 58 Iwi with fishing assets of which the Iwi Collective Partnership is the largest Iwi collective both by the number of Iwi and volume of quota shares.
In 2004 the Crown and Iwi reached a similar settlement for aquaculture governed by the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004. Iwi now have significant ownership in all facets of the New Zealand seafood industry – fisheries and aquaculture.
Ringawera (local chefs) shelling mussels at a Marae (2015)