1 Mar 2012

Moriori leader advocates more Chatham Island autonomy

8:13 am on 1 March 2012

A Moriori leader says the Chatham Islands would receive more support if it wasn't part of New Zealand's sovereign territory.

The chairman of the Hokotehi Moriori Trust Board makes the points in a submission to the Select Committee overseeing the Exclusive Economic Zone and Environmental Effects Bill.

Maui Solomon says Niue - which is part of the realm of New Zealand - receives more than $20 million a year through Pacific Aid, and contributes nothing to New Zealand's economy.

Mr Solomon says by contrast, Rekohu, or the Chatham Islands, receives only about $5 million from the Government but contributes about $250 million in revenue to the economy through its valuable fisheries industry and taxes.

However, he says, little of this putea (fund) finds its way back to Rekohu where the infrastructure is suffering, the population is diminishing, and unemployment is rising.

He says he does not begrudge Niue receiving financial support but the Chathams is equally, if not more, deserving of government support for ongoing development and economic sustainability.

Mr Solomon says Moriori have been advocating for more political and economic autonomy from New Zealand.