Te Rūnanga-Ā-Iwi-Ō-Ngāpuhi are throwing their support behind the legal action started by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu to block attempts by the Māori Fisheries Settlement Trust to change the way surplus funds are distributed.
Allocations now distribute benefits on a population basis, but planned amendments to the act would allow funds to be distributed equally among iwi.
Where the allocations are decided now came to fruition in 2016, thanks to a special general meeting at Te Ohu Kaimoana where a motion was passed in favour of distributing the surplus to each of the 58 mandated iwi organisations.
“What that then meant for Ngāpuhi, in terms of let’s say a $100 million surplus held by Te Ohu Kaimoana, we would miss out by $17 million,” Ngāpuhi chair Wane Wharerau says.
According to Wharerau, the planned amendments would mean 165,000 Ngāpuhi would get the same amount as an iwi with only 3000 people, something he calls “unjust".
“I think if we look back at the settlement, it wasn’t a good settlement. However, we are stuck with what we’ve got at the moment in terms of legislation.
“Apart from the disparity funds allocation, we then have some problems with our relationships with one another.”
Talks in Te Tai Tokerau have happened to discuss what the changes would look like. Wharerau says, under the proposed changes, the district would lose $8 million while making the same amount under the current legislation.
“The role of Te Ohu Kaimoana is to protect that settlement, therefore, to protect the allocations of resources to Māori by the deed itself. Any variation to that must be thought through very carefully.”