The Wai 953 claimants represent Ngati Kahungunu, Ngati Whatua, Te Atiawa ki te Tau Ihu, Ngati Koata, Ngai Tahu, and Ngati Kuia. They claim to have a broad relationship with the coastal marine area and that as an incident of that relationship they have an interest in aquaculture, or more particularly marine farming.
The Tribunal was assisted by submissions from Te Ohu Kaimoana and the New Zealand Marine Farming Association.
The claimants alleged that they had been prejudicially affected by the proposals of the crown to reform the laws regulating aquaculture and in particular marine farming in New Zealand. They allege that these Crown actions amount to acts, policies, and practices in breach of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.
The Tribunal's focus during the inquiry was on the proposals for reform and not on the existing aquaculture regime. The concern was the discrete question of whether the proposed reforms were in breach of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. We also considered whether attempts made by the Crown, subsequent to the filing of these claims, addressed Maori issues adequately so as to discharge the Crown's duty actively to protect Maori interests.
In summary, this report found that Māori have an interest in marine farming that forms part of the bundle of Maori rights in the coastal marine area that represent a taonga protected by the Treaty of Waitangi. The Tribunal found that the proposed reforms do breach the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and the reasons for this are explained in chapter 6 and 7 of the report. The Tribunal also found that further consultation with Māori is needed to ascertain what should be done to ensure that their Treaty interests are adequately provided for. To facilitate this process the Tribunal recommended that the delay before the introduction of the Bill should be used by the Crown to establish a mechanism (resourced by the Crown) for consultation and negotiation with Māori including the claimants, facilitated by Te Ohu Kai Moana. The basis of consultation should be the existence of Treaty rights in the coastal space, which include rights, the extent of which are yet to be determined, to aquaculture and marine farming.
The parties should use the mechanism to discuss:
-a process for investigating the nature and extent of the Māori interest in marine farming;
-a process for agreeing on the mechanism needed to protect the Māori interest in marine farming, including a mechanism for preserving capacity to intervene once the full nature and and extent of that interest is defined;
-a process for ensuring appropriate Māori participation in the development of AMA areas and tendering process;
-a mechanism for preserving the Crown's capacity to meet its Treaty obligations in the short term, until such time as the longer planning issues are dealt with.
The Tribunal found that since the claims are well-founded, the recommendation is for payment by the Crown of the claimants' reasonable costs and expenses.
The Tribunal also indicated that the claimants have leave without further application for urgency, to return to the Tribunal should they have concerns that these matters have not been addressed properly after any legislation has been enacted.