(12 April 2016)
Upholding the core values of the Treaty of Waitangi is a dream job for Dion Tuuta.
The recently appointed chief executive of the Maori Fisheries Trust, or Te Ohu Kaimoana, began his career as a historian for the Waitangi Tribunal but had been the CEO of Taranaki’s largest producer of milk for Fonterra, Parininihi ki Waitotara, since 2008.
Te Ohu Kaimoana was established to manage the fishery quota allocation to iwi after the fisheries settlement in 1992, which divided an allocated 10 per cent of all fishing quota among all New Zealand iwi.
Tuuta would begin his new role in July and was passionate about what the fisheries settlement had done for Maori.
“Te Ohu Kaimoana is a kaitiaki [guardian] of Maori fishing interests at the national level, particularly when viewed in the context of the Treaty of Waitangi and the1992 fisheries settlement,” he said.
“I believe in the promise of the Treaty of Waitangi for New Zealand.”
Tuuta said a key factor in him applying for the role was he viewed Te Ohu Kaimoana as a key institution for upholding Maori rights.
“Now that its initial function of distributing assets to iwi is complete its purpose will change to deliver services to Iwi,” he said.
“Whether that comes in the form of advice, or policy advocacy to the government it will involve a process of working closely with iwi to help them achieve their aspirations.”
Tuuta said because he had not started in his role at Te Ohu Kaimoana yet, he couldn’t comment on the issue but noted he was supportive of the trust’s decision to take a case against the government over the Kermadecs.
Tuuta would leave his position with PKW when he took up the new role and said the move was not in relation to the low dairy payout.
He said PKW was still a strong business with excellent potential.
“I have been grateful for the opportunity to serve the shareholders of PKW and after 8 years I am ready to take on a new challenge. I believe the time is right for PKW to seek out the CEO to lead the next phase of our development.
“Parininihi ki Waitotara is the largest landowner in Taranaki and would be in the top three or four largest maori agri-businesses in New Zealand,” he said.