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Sidestepping Smith should be side-lined

Nick Smith's arrogance and disrespect towards Māori is putting the future of the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary at risk and he needs to excuse himself from further negotiations with Te Ohu Kaimoana, Labour's Fisheries spokesperson Rino Tirikatene says.

“Nick Smith's ignorance of the full and final 1992 Treaty fisheries settlement proves he is unfit to lead Government negotiations on this issue. He should be nowhere near the helm on Kermadec discussions. Leaving iwi Fisheries interests out of the process sets a bad precedent of extinguishing a property right without consultation.

“The Government's position has been that Maori should simply forfeit their rights without exploring the range of options that could achieve a win for the marine ecosystem and preserve Treaty rights.

“Smith should step aside. This is the latest in a long list of Smith stuff-ups. This is the man who has presided over the worst housing crisis in modern New Zealand history. The Minister who tried to sell Crown land without offering it first to Ngati Whatua under the terms of their Treaty Settlement. His much-hyped RMA reforms have also failed.

“New Zealanders will be rightly asking, is there any policy that Nick Smith has been involved in that has not been a total stuff-up? A year ago, we warned the Government that failure to consult with Māori from the beginning would lead to legal problems. Now we’re faced with infighting among the Government's support parties and the Sanctuary is at risk of being tied up in years of legal action.

“The Government needs to get back around the table and hammer out a compromise that meets Treaty obligations and protects the environment,” says Rino Tirikatene.