5 Mar 2012

Moriori seek recognition and equity in new marine law

6:35 am on 5 March 2012

A Moriori leader says the Government's drive to expand oil and gas exploration will exploit the Chatham Islands - and people there will receive little, if any, of the benefits.

The Hokotehi Moriori Trust Board chairman has made a submission on a Government bill aimed at boosting environmental controls at sea.

Maui Solomon says the Chatham Islands provides the New Zealand economy with up to $250 million in revenue a year from its valuable fisheries industry.

But he says very little money comes back to the Chathams - with most of the profits being invested in mainland New Zealand.

Mr Solomon says it's crucial the Chathams, or Rekohu, is included in any legislation because the islands help to extend New Zealand's territorial waters by about 700 kilometres.

He says the islanders are not asking for any handouts - they're asking for New Zealand to hand something back that they've been taking from the Chathams for over 200 years at their cost and expense.

Mr Solomon says a little bit of fairness and equity would be appreciated and he hopes the Government seriously considers that.

He says Moriori want to be specifically recognised in the Exclusive Economic Zone and Environmental Effects Bill.

Mr Solomon says the law prevents them from making any foreshore and seabed claims before 1840 because their tribal estates were taken off them by Taranaki tribes in 1835, and they can only make claims over areas they've maintained control over.