Maori in Aquaculture

The harvesting of seafood and purity of water is the cornerstone of who they are as people.

Indigenous Maori are key participants in the sector.  Not only is aquaculture based on renewable resources, it depends for its existence on the purity of water – it therefore has a stewardship role in assisting to protect New Zealand’s aquatic environments. This is vital to Maori participants in the industry who have an interest in ensuring that the management of aquaculture is consistent with traditional management concepts such as kaitiakitanga. (The exercise of guardianship by the tangata whenua of an area in accordance with Maori in relation to natural and physical resources including the ethic of stewardship). The harvesting of seafood and purity of water is the cornerstone of who they are as people. The pioneers of the industry have adopted these same values the industry reflects today.

A successful sector strategy will ensure that iwi, as beneficiaries of the settlement, are informed and active participants in aquaculture.  The scale of potential iwi involvement in the future of the industry is such that the sector as a whole will not reach its full potential unless iwi prosper.

In addition, iwi have a range of interests as tangata whenua that are recognised in various statutes including the RMA 1991.  These interests make them vitally important partners and allies in the regional development of aquaculture, quite independent of their own current and future interest in the sector.

Maori are already significant players in the New Zealand aquaculture industry and their role is expected to grow in the coming years.  Te Puni Kokiri is currently working with Maori to develop resources for a sustainable growth framework that takes into account both commercial and kaitiaki (stewardship) aspirations.  This will include actively engaging Maori participation at all levels of the industry.

Strengthening Maori success in aquaculture requires the following factors:

  • New aquaculture developments must be sound business propositions
  • Maori must have access to industry and commercial expertise
  • Maori must have the knowledge and human resources to actively participate in the planning process, specifically the Resource Management Act
  • Emphasis on iwi working together at a regional level to maximise the benefits of the settlement assets
  • Wider environmental concerns must balance with commercial aquaculture aspirations
  • Collaboration and relationship building between iwi, community, industry, regional and central government