Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Settlement

Date: 23 September 1992
Sub Category:Deed of Settlement (New Zealand)
State/Country:Aotearoa - New Zealand
Alternative Names:
  • Sealord Deal
  • Payments:
  • ($170000000)
  • Subject Matter:Compensation | Fishing | Land Settlement | Recognition of Native Title or Traditional Ownership
    Summary Information:
    The Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Settlement was signed in September 1992. Negotiations between the New Zealand Government and Maori were complex, seeking full and final settlement of all claims to commercial fisheries. For over one hundred years, Maori had argued before the Crown, the Waitangi Tribunal and the courts that the guarantee of "full, exclusive possession… of their fisheries" contained in the Treaty of Waitangi had never been given effect. Both the Waitangi Tribunal and the government agreed there was some form of redress required. The settlement was first proposed in a Memorandum of Understanding on the 27 August 1992 that was made subject to Maori ratification. The formalised deed of settlement was then finalised. The Crown agreed to fund Maori into a 50/50 joint venture with Brierley Investments Ltd to bid for Sealord Products Ltd (New Zealand’s biggest fishing company) holding 27% of the New Zealand quota resource. 20% of the new species quota was also promised as well as greater representation of Maori on statutory bodies on fisheries management. The Maori Fisheries Commission was to be restructured and named the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission, making it more accountable to Maori and giving it more input to fisheries management. In return, the Maori who signed agreed that all their current and future claims in respect of all sea or inland commercial fishing rights and interests were fully satisfied and discharged. It was also agreed that customary fishing rights will be replaced by regulations and that the Fisheries Commission will develop a procedure to determine how the assets will be distributed. The Sealord purchase was enshrined in the Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act 1992.
    Detailed Information:
    The Fisheries Settlement resulted from Maori challenges to the Government’s attempts in 1986 to establish the Quota Management System (QMS) to manage and conserve Aotearoa’s commercial fisheries. The initial concept of the QMS did not take into account Maori fishing rights secured and guaranteed under the Treaty of Waitangi. Ngai Tahu, Muriwhenua and Tainui Iwi along with the New Zealand Maori Council went to the High Court for a declaration that the QMS was contrary to both the Treaty and the law. In October 1987, a court injunction prevented the new inclusion of species in the QMS on the basis that the full exclusive and undisturbed fishing rights belonging to Maori in those species would be lost to them. In 1989, after drawn-out negotiations, the Crown and the Maori parties reached an interim agreement that allowed the QMS to be implemented. That agreement allowed for Maori to receive 10% of all fishstocks introduced into the QMS, and provided for a payment of $10 million cash. These assets are generally referred to as Pre-Settlement Assets (PRESA). The agreement was legislated in the form of the Maori Fisheries Act 1989, which set up the Maori Fisheries Commission as the body through which the Crown could deliver quota to Maori. Seven Commissioners were appointed with Dr (now Sir) Tipene O’Regan as the chairperson. The Crown began the gradual transfer of 10% of quota species to the Commission, and the Commission started work on developing options for a permanent allocation system. This process was based on extensive consultation with Iwi. In 1992, with the impending sale of Sealord Products Ltd in Nelson, the Crown and Maori agreed to a final settlement. The assets acquired from the Deed of Settlement are referred to as Post-Settlement Assets (POSA).
    The settlement is an historic agreement as it was the first agreement to extinguish claims, and the first to affect all Iwi.

    Related Entries

  • Treaty of Waitangi
  • Te Arawa (Lakes) Deed of Settlement
  • Ngati Mutunga Deed of Settlement
  • Ngâti Apa (North Island) Deed of Settlement
  • Organisation
  • Waitangi Tribunal
  • Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission
  • New Zealand Maori Council
  • New Zealand Government
  • Office of Treaty Settlements
  • Legislation
  • Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act 1992 (NZ)
  • Maori Fisheries Act 1989 (NZ)
  • Maori Fisheries Act 2004 (NZ)
  • People
  • Sir Tipene O'Regan
  • Ngai Tahu
  • Muriwhenua People
  • Waikato-Tainui People

  • References

    New Zealand government (1992) Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Deed of Settlement
    Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission (2002) Ahu Whakamua: What it Means for You


    Agreement in Principle / Heads of Agreement (New Zealand) | Governance Entity (New Zealand) | Deed of Settlement (New Zealand) | Settlement Legislation (New Zealand)