National | Aquaculture

Iwi says Māori are thriving in aquaculture

Penetauī Kleskovic. Councillor Representative for Ngā Tai o Tokerau Māori Ward

A Far North iwi says the aquaculture industry is another pathway for Māori to thrive in.

The aquaculture industry is worth $1.6 billion to the New Zealand economy, and is expected to reach over $3 billion a year in sales by 2035.

Far North iwi Te Aupōuri acquired a 11-hectare mussel farm in Houhora, north of Kaitāia after it signed a Treaty settlement in 2012.

Commercial general manager Penetauī Kleskovic said there was a bright future ahead for iwi involved in the industry.

“The importance of aquaculture is that it is a different path from farming, dairy farming, and growing trees. It is another path for us as Māori to thrive in. The mussel product that comes from the sea is ours, and once they have grown we sell them overseas.”

Despite opposition from some groups about the Fast Track Approval bill, descendants from the Far North are planning to use it to their advantage.

Kleskovic said in Muriwhenua they had been looking for an industry that would unify them and provide an income. He suggested growing mussels, which he was doing successsfully and the iwi agreed.

Because the iwi is fairly new to the industry, it has teamed up with Te Whakatōhea, which has been in the industry for over 20 years.

“‘Follow us and we will teach you’, and, from there, we have been working together alongside other professionals in the industry,” he said.

Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic plants and animals in the water. The industry has grown 0.8% on average each year since 2018.

Last year the government set up the Aquaculture Planning Fund (APF) to help the aquaculture industry achieve its goal of $3 billion in sales by 2035.

The fund supports regional councils to plan for sustainable aquaculture growth and development including:

  • allocating space;
  • creating zones for new consent applications;
  • provisions for new species;
  • provisions to do with environmental impacts; and
  • research on information and advice that supports decision-making and improves reconsenting provisions and processes.