Te Ohu Kaimoana back in Kermadec sanctuary talks

12:35 pm on 19 September 2016

Te Ohu Kaimoana executives have gone to Parliament for another attempt at talks on the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary.

The organisation representing Māori fishing rights called a halt to talks with the Crown last week after months of negotiations resulted in a stalemate, with neither party budging on a Treaty right which allows Māori to fish in the Kermadec zone.

Parliament buildings

Photo: Nick-D CC BA SA 3.0

Today's new consultation is taking place between between Te Ohu Kaimoana and the Māori Party after Prime Minister John Key asked the government support the party to help find a way forward.

Te Ohu Kaimoana chairman Jamie Tuuta arriving at Parliament.

Te Ohu Kaimoana chairman Jamie Tuuta arriving at Parliament. Photo: RNZ

"We've been very clear about what our position is," said Te Ohu Kaimoana Chairman Jamie Tuuta, who is leading the talks. "We'll see what the Māori Party have to discuss with us today and we'll go from there."

At the weekend, Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox expressed confidence the party could find a way forward.

But that would include the government acknowledging the Treaty right inside the ocean sanctuary, something Environment Minister Nick Smith has said would undermine the sanctuary's integrity.

The Māori Party is under pressure to walk away from the government but Ms Fox said it would be the party membership that decided.

"If our people tell us to walk, if our membership tell us to walk, we will be guided by then but let's not jump the gun."

This morning, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English said the Māori Party was advocating strong views.

There had not been as much consultation as Te Ohu Kaimoana wanted, and the government would be "going back over the ground with the Māori Party to make sure everyone understands each other's objectives," he said.

Māori Party president Tukoroirangi Morgan, a former member of Te Ohu Kaimoana's council, arrived for the talks this morning, but made no comment on the meeting.

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