Friday, October 18, 2013

Karl du Fresne: Leave it to Maori and hope for the best

The recent conviction of a Hawke’s Bay kaitiaki, or “guardian” of customary fisheries, makes a mockery of the word.
Napier District Court heard that authorisations issued by Rangi Spooner under customary fishing regulations covered multiple dates instead of the allowed 48-hour period. A man named Jason Brown obtained 11 such authorisations and was later convicted of illegally selling crayfish for $10 each. A separate hearing was told that Brown caught 1730 crays, supposedly for events at his house. That’s a helluva lot of crayfish.
Spooner was convicted of failing to meet fisheries officer Kelly Pouwhare despite repeated requests arising from concern about the permits he had issued.

Under the regulations, kaitiaki – who are appointed by their iwi – can authorise Maori to exceed normal catch limits and to take undersized fish, but not for commercial gain or trade.
The authorisations are issued so that Maori can provide for whanau or guests – for example, at a tangi or wedding. It’s a recognition of their traditional rights as tangata whenua. But the system depends on trust, and Spooner’s conviction is bound to reinforce suspicions that it’s wide open to abuse.

There is a delicate issue here. Given the importance among Maori of obligations to whanau, hapu and iwi, it’s easy to imagine people in positions of trust, such as kaitiaki, being put under pressure to rort the system.
In this case, fisheries officers were on to it. But you have to wonder whether other abuses go undetected – and if so, how many.

Can we be confident that the authorities are always rigorous in ensuring the regulations are respected? Probably not, because bureaucrats and their political masters fret about being labelled culturally insensitive – or even worse, racist.  Far safer to leave Maori to police themselves and hope for the best.
Like the rest of us (indeed, arguably even more so), Maori have an interest in ensuring the protection of vulnerable fish species. If they are genuinely committed to conservation, the onus is on iwi and hapu themselves to expose and condemn anyone who lets the side down by playing fast and loose with the rules.

Karl blogs at This article was first published in the Dominion Post.


Anonymous said...

Yep that is right leave them to Police themselves just like they did before.
And with a bit of luck they will start the constant tribal wars they were so used to. But this time we should stand back and let do a good job and actually do what is right and best for New Zealand and annihilate themselves. You only have to watch a couple of episodes of Coast Watch on Tv to see what a joke the whole Maori thing is, not only do they openly abuse it but if not just let off (which seems to happen most times)they just laugh it off and get that magic piece of paper from the Marae.

Anonymous said...

I suggest you ask the extinct Moa about the conservation skills of our early settlers.

Anonymous said...

yeah, like leave the fox in charge of the henhouse?
There is a reason that a large portion of our prison inmates are Maori?23

Anonymous said...

Why are we all to PC to acknowledge the elephant in the room. 4 out of Maori males will end up in prison, 80% of our court cases and prison population are Maori, child abuse and murder, most are Maori, whenever I read about rape, assault, muggings etc it seems most are Maori. They are only 16% of our population but commit the most violence and crime. imagine what NZ would be like if we had no Maori, it would be the Switzerland of
the South Pacific.
No Maori leaders or white will acknowledge the obvious, until we accept the reality of the problem we can never fix it.
Until we stop all this Maori are privileged BS and start being a lot harder on repeat criminals NZ is going to increasing going to become like South Africa.