Putea Whakatupu Trust was established under the Māori Fisheries Act 2004 as part of the fisheries settlement. It was to provide for Māori resident in urban areas. Three trustees are appointed by Te Ohu Kai Moana (TOKM). The Act provides for two reviews, the first in 2014, with power to recommend changes.
NZ Māori Council is named as one of several Māori Representative Organisations with a role in the review. But in addition:
- the Council has represented urban Māori since 1962 when the Act was amended to provide for Māori Committees in both urban and rural areas based simply on the Māori living in those areas.
- the Council’s capacity to represent is based on having committees which cover the several districts of Aotearoa.
- the Council led the case for urban Māori in the Courts during the fisheries allocation debate.
In 2015 the National Urban Māori Authority (NUMA) and the Whānau o Waipareira Trust took Court action against TOKM for the way the Trust was being administered.
Woodward Law reported to the Executive on the Courts’ decision which was delivered on 15 July. The key points are:
- The Court agreed with NUMA/Waipareira that each Director of the Trust must have knowledge of, and be able to represent, the interests of Māori who reside in urban areas of New Zealand. Previously, it appears that two of the three directors did not meet that test.
- The Court disagreed with NUMA/Waipareira that each director should have close associations with urban groups having served as their Chief Executives or the like,
- The Court agreed with TOKM’s proposals for five directors rather than three.
- The Court considered that TOKM should have consulted more fully with the Representative Māori Organisations.
The Executive supports the larger number of directors because of the varying circumstances of urban groups and the need for directors from different environments. The Executive has especially noted the position of the South Island where urban Māori are more distanced from their tribal roots than most Māori. The question for the Council now is how to best respect the position of the urban Māori.