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Sealord and iwi join forces to create opportunities for growth in sustainable fisheries

A collaborative agreement signed today will see Sealord, a major force in New Zealand deep sea fisheries and owned 50% by Māori, work alongside iwi to create growth and value for the business and its shareholders, a fundamental focus of the Māori fisheries settlement.

The agreement entitled Nga Tapuwae o Maui (‘following in the footsteps of Māui’) gives Sealord access to annual catch entitlement (ACE) of 36 iwi groups in a deal set to increase efficiencies and see greater than 80% of profits returned to iwi. The long-term arrangement will provide stability for Sealord operations, having invested heavily in new fishing technologies and modernisation of its fleet.

The agreement will mean about 60% of the iwi quota held in deep-water fisheries (including hoki, orange roughy, jack mackerel and silver warehou), will be caught on Sealord's vessels. It will also provide iwi members opportunities for training and employment, and advance iwi knowledge of, and involvement in, aspects of the fisheries value chain with Sealord.

Mark Ngata, Ngati Porou Seafoods Group CEO, described the signing of the agreement as “a watershed moment” in the history of Māori fisheries.

“This unique partnership very much aligns with the intent of the Māori fisheries settlement, which envisaged Māori working collectively together, large and small, for the benefit of all. This is what our tipuna fought so hard for,” he says. 

“The journey towards reaching this signing is the culmination of like-minded people within Māori fisheries, including Sealord, working towards a common goal, which I am very proud to be part of.”

Maru Samuels, General Manager, of the Iwi Collective Partnership said the arrangement provides significant opportunities for Māori.

“This collaboration has only been possible due to the shared values and aspirations of all parties, as well confidence in Sealord as a leader in New Zealand’s deep sea fisheries.”

Sealord Board Chair Whaimutu Dewes (also Chair of Moana New Zealand which jointly owns Sealord), said while Sealord signed a similar agreement with some separate iwi collectives in 2014, this deal is different.

“This is not just about increasing returns – it is a business decision that is founded on tikanga Māori where all parties are taking learnings from earlier arrangements to better manage our fisheries assets. Together, we want to lift our sights higher to ensure fisheries continue to be managed sustainably, using best practice, with improved performance.

“Taku toa he toa takitini; ehara i te toa takitahi. (Our achievements are brought by the effort of many.)”

Te Kupenga spokesperson Tony Magner said the agreement for Te Kupenga and Maniapoto iwi, provides an “ACE plus return”.

"We share a common recognition that quota is taonga that must be protected for future generations and that this can be achieved whilst maximising the income from this valuable asset," he said.

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