In 2006, the Rūnanga established Te Topū Ika o Ngāti Whātua to receive fishing and aquaculture assets under the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Settlement Act, and Aquaculture Settlement Act. These combined assets are managed by Ngāti Whātua Fisheries, a subsidiary of the Rūnanga.
Ngāti Kahungunu and Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Whātua have a lot in common when it comes to fisheries and Takitimu Seafoods are not insignificant in terms of infrastructure. They already operate in Taitokerau and the top half of the North Island. The Rūnanga has indicated its desire to identify opportunities for Ngāti Whātua fishers to catch ACE through the joint venture.
The Rūnanga believes there is an opportunity to add value to Ngāti Whātua fish stocks by selling the fish online. Iwi Māori throughout Australasia are big consumers of fish and there is a significant opportunity to provide products direct to iwi, hapū, whānau and marae in a way that only iwi Māori can.
Besides partnering with Takitimu Seafoods, the board has started to formalise longer-term relationships with other Māori fisheries and operators relating to our mussel spat and scampi ACE.
The board believe its strategy to sell rock lobsters online will help recover some of the value lost during the last two years owing to covid and TACC reductions. The board has decided to test its assumptions by selling all available rock lobster ACE online during the 2021-22 Christmas/New Year period. If this is successful, the board will look to expand the sale of Ngāti Whātua ACE in this way.
In relation to deep water stocks, the board will continue to work through the collaborative it has with Sealord and several other iwi. Sealord has done a very good job at navigating its way through the impacts caused by covid and the closure of restaurants worldwide. The board expect the greatest impacts on value to come in the 2021-22 October season as wholesalers continue to offload their inventory which would otherwise have been sold by now had it not been for covid.
Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Whātua is a shareholder in Sealord and Moana, two of the largest deep-water and inshore fishing companies in New Zealand. Like Sealord, Moana must also address the issues confronting the fishing industry. The commercial board is concerned that Moana is not performing as well as they should and will seek to input to discussions in this regard at the 2022 AGM.