Whakatōhea aquaculture history
Whakatōhea has come a long way since beginning its aquaculture journey in 1996. The investment approach by New Zealand Seafarms to the Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board (Trust Board) opened up a world of opportunity for the Iwi. This by no means has been an easy journey, however, through persistence and a focus on the path ahead, Whakatōhea have been able to overcome the challenges along the way and explore the multi million dollar aquaculture industry.
In 2001 Whakatōhea considered a proposal by New Zealand Seafarms and Sea Lords regarding the waterspace in Whakatōhea rohe moana, and entered into an agreement with Foveaux Mussels Ltd.
That year in April the name Foveaux Mussels was changed to Eastern Seafarms and on the 3 May 2002 an application to farm the waterspace 8.5km off shore was lodged with Bay of Plenty Regional Council.
The permit allowed the company to undertake a staged approach to develop the 3,800ha marine farm for the farming of green shell mussels, scallops, pacific and flat oysters, and on a pilot basis, other species, including catching spat. In 2009 the company undertook a feasibility assessment for green shell mussels and sea cucumber and initiated the first 3 lines in the water in 2010.
By 2012 the mussels were found to grow to 95 mm and in 14 months were providing yields of over 9kg per metre on the lines. Science has been the backbone behind the progress of the farm and will continue to play a role as expansion occurs.
Eastern Sea farms shareholding changed again following the exit of NZ Sea farms and Sea lords in 2014. To this day, Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board own 54% of Eastern Seafarms and Whakatōhea Aquaculture (Ōpōtiki) Ltd 46%. Together their role is to manage the resource consent to ensure all conditions are met, and to receive revenue from leasing the waterspace. At present, Whakatōhea Mussels (Ōpōtiki Ltd) is the company who is leasing the water space.
Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board continued to explore the opportunity to develop the waterspace further and undertook extensive scientific reporting through it’s partner Cawthron Institute. A resource consent application was lodged in 2017 and three years later on the 17 July 2020, approval was given by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to develop a further 956 ha marine farm. This farm is separate to the current 3,800ha farm under development and it is likely this waterspace will be used for spat.
Whakatōhea Mussels Ōpōtiki Ltd
Having successfully trialed 3 lines on the 3,800ha marine farm in 2010 the decision was made to move to a commercial model to take the development further. From here Whakatōhea Mussels (Ōpōtiki) Limited (WMO) was created. The company was formed in 2014 in partnership with Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board and local Ōpōtiki investors. By 2015, 46 commercial lines went into the water to catch spat and the first commercial harvest of 45 tonnes of mussels were sold through North Island Foodstuffs supermarkets in 2016.
That same year the Company decided to undertake it’s first capital raise to purchase it’s first commercial mussel vessel, the Northern Quest and further line installations. In total 136 mussel lines had been installed and new partnerships had been formed. The company made it’s next move to expand the development of the marine farm and prepared a business case for a mussel processing factory.
In November 2017, another share offer was undertaken to raise capital to expand the mussel farm to include the development of a further 585 ha and to initiate the build of the company’s second vessel. Extensive support was received from local shareholders included marae, hapū, land blocks, whānau, individuals and private partnerships from the Ōpōtiki community and surrounding areas.
The Kukutai was built in Auckland by McMullan and Wing and was smaller than the Northern Quest, and launched in October 2018. In December of that year Minister Jones announced an initial investment of $850,000 from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) to progress the business case to build a mussel processing facility. The Government also agreed to support further investment subject to the successful outcome of the business case.
The Trust Board were also successful with their business case and received funds to accelerate the development of its aquaculture and settlement assets. Through Whakatōhea treaty negotiations, a further 5,000ha of water space was allocated to Whakatōhea.
By 2019, the company was tracking well with their business case and by February 2020, a further information memorandum was presented to the public for an offer of new shares in the company. The proceeds of this offer were to expand marine farm and the development of the factory.
The Government stuck to their agreement in 2018, and funded the build of the mussel factory along with the successful capital raise by current and new shareholders.
The dream of a factory being built became a reality when the mussel factory was opened on the 2 July 2021. (add pictures of mussel factory opening. Below are the two boats built. The one on the left is the first boat – Northern Quest, the 2nd one is the Kukutai.).
Tūāpapa Introductory Foundation Course
The company continues to grow from strength to strength and more recently has partnered with the Trust Board to undertake a training program – Tūāpapa Introductory Foundation Course. This 3 week programme introduced prospective workers to seafood processing and covered entry level skills and knowledge required in the industry. Those who enrolled on the course gained a Level 2 Certificate which was a requirement to work in the mussel factory.
For the 2021/2022 year a total of 147 students were enrolled into the Tūāpapa programe. Of this 133 successfully graduated. We continue to provide opportunities for our people to become employed at the mussel factory and within other parts of our business. If not with us, we support and advocate for employment with other employee’s within our local region.
Whakatōhea Cultural Practices
The Trust Board relationship with all entities across the aquaculture space have acknowledged and respected our kaitiaki obligations. The Trust Board through its cultural pou completed a cultural values assessment for the marine farm as well as the Ōpōtiki harbour development to inform stakeholders of the cultural significant of these projects to Whakatōhea. It has also highlighted how all stakeholders can play a part in upholding the tikanga (practices) of Whakatōhea, and the maintenance of Kaitiakitanga (guardianship), that protects the Mauri (life force) of the environment around these important places of significance.
It is important to Whakatōhea that we monitor the developments of all projects from a kaitiaki perspective and ensure sustainable practices occur in line with our long-term view.
Whakatōhea Dairy Farm
The Whakatōhea Dairy Farm is a legacy asset and was purchased from a grant given to Whakatōhea in 1946 for the confiscation of their lands. This grant was for £20,000 pounds and enabled the tribe to purchase J.G Murray’s farm as a going concern in 1952. This farm is located on the Waioweka flats and has an effective milking platform of 205ha.
Whakatōhea is blessed to have a good team managing our dairy farm. Under the leadership of Josh Collier, Jordan Collier, Fred Collier, Tutīaki Wharepapa and Motunui Insley, the farm has become one of the top-performing dairy farm’s in the Eastern Bay of Plenty and has been so for the past 5 years.
The team have achieved grade free for the last 3 years, achieving Te Tihi Level 3 – the highest Fonterra Co-operative of excellence in five areas, prosperity, environment, animals, people, and milk.
This year, a focus has gone on developing our environmental plan which will see riparian planting around our streams.
Whakapaupakihi – Support farm
The Trust Board currently leases a 395ha run off block at Mōtuhora Road, the Mōtu from Trustees of Whakapaupākihi 6 & 7. The whenua is used to graze our dairy stock, young dairy heifers, calves, carry-over cows and beef stock. For the past 2 years, we have been trialling the use of sheep to manage ragwort on the hills and gullies which has proven to be successful. Calves are raised both for the dairy farm and for sale which gives a good mix of dairy income and stock returns. Grass growth has improved through replanting and managing stock movement and land management.
This year we have been working on our environmental plan and fencing off around dams to prevent stock from entering the waterways and spraying blackberry and other noxious weeds.
Te Waiti Lands Trust
Te Waiti Lands Trust is owned in third shares by Nukutere Lands Trust, Rawea lands Trust and the Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board, who elect two trustees each onto the Te Waiti Management Committee. The property was originally purchased in 1989, as general land, and then converted to Māori land. The property is now under total Trustee management after switching over from a 50/50 sharemilker structure. The freehold land comprises 62.7466 hectares of which approx. 56.15 hectares is effective for milking cows.
Te Waiti lease 119.4 hectares off neighbouring Māori Land under a close relationship. The three partners each originally put in $75,000 to buy the farm, with current equity now conservatively put at over $563,700.
Waikeke Farms Limited is owned in third shares by Nukutere Lands Trust, Otanemutu Lands Trust and the Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board. Each owner elects two Directors onto the Waikeke board. The property was purchased in 2016 as a going concern, and is general land. Last year the Company purchased the neighbouring block off the Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board, which it had been utilising under a lease agreement. Recently decisions were made to upgrade the cowshed, races, fencing & water platform. The property is under total Director management with a manager who was employed in the 2020 season.
The farms 2021 target has been 157,500kg MS and supplies to Fonterra. The land is freehold and comprises 175.6042 ha of which approximately 132.3ha is an effective milking platform. Waikeke leases 5.96 effective ha off neighbouring Māori Landowners. Future expansion is being considered to enlarge the cowshed yard, upgrade the managers house and redevelop 15.5ha reverted land into pasture.
The Trust Board has three kiwifruit orchards on Apanui Road, Te Tōtara, Tarata and Te Maara. The Board had had a long-standing joint venture arrangement with Ōpōtiki Packing & Coolstore (OPAC) and recently went into partnership with Seeka when OPAC was bought out. These orchards total 11.19ha and is seen as a long-term investment for the Trust Board.
With the change of ownership, the Trust Board continues to engage TOA Contracting as kiwifruit manager and we are pleased with their results to date. A significant amount of work has been done to improve our kiwifruit blocks and most of the work has focused on the development of G3, G9 and Hay Wood varieties.
The Trust Board is one of 25 partners who has been involved in the Waiteata No 2 Forest Partnership. This forest block is situated 76 kilometres by road North of Gisborne on the Tauwhareparae Road and comprises 462 ha of freehold land of which 390 ha is planted in pinus radiate. For the past 2 years, the company has begun harvesting the blocks and will look to complete harvesting by 2024.
Māori customary fishing rights were secured and guaranteed by Article 2 of the Treaty of Waitangi 1840 between Queen Victoria and Māori tribes of New Zealand.
For many years Māori claimed the Crown had breached Treaty fishing rights through a series of actions and the introduction of the Quota Management System (QMS) in 1986, which removed statutory recognition of Māori customary rights to fishing and fisheries. Requests for relief and subsequent judgements through the Waitangi Tribunal and the courts prompted the Crown to enter negotiations with Māori to resolve Treaty fishing claims over commercial fisheries.
In 1989, the Crown and Māori negotiators agreed on an interim settlement, which was given effect by the Māori Fisheries Act 1989. This interim settlement saw the creation of a Māori Fisheries Commission, then followed by Te Ohu Kai Moana Trustee Limited.
Te Ohu Kaimoana was established to advance the interests of Māori in fishing and fisheries-related activities and to return valuable fisheries assets and funds from the Settlement to Iwi organisations. The Trust is managed by a corporate trustee, Te Ohu Kai Moana Trustee Limited which is central to administering, protecting and enhancing the Fisheries Settlement to ensure that funds are delivered to Iwi and ultimately all Māori.
Whakatōhea Fisheries Trust
The Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board is the corporate trustee and MIO (Mandated Iwi Organisation) for the Whakatōhea Fisheries Trust. The Fisheries Trust is made up of 12 board members from the Trust Board, and 6 Advisory Trustee’s nominated from hapū. In total 18 hapū represent Whakatōhea on this trust.
The Fisheries Trust was established in 2006 under the Māori Fisheries Act 2004. Its purposes are to receive, hold, manage and administer the Fisheries Settlement Trust fund for every Charitable purpose benefiting Whakatōhea whether it relates to poverty, the advancement of education, or religion or any other matter important to Whakatōhea members.
Other incidental purposes are to receive and hold Fisheries settlement cash assets, and grants made by Te Ohu Kai Moana Trustee Ltd.
The Fisheries Trust has set up two subsidiary companies under its structure. These are the Whakatōhea Fisheries Asset Holding Company (WFAHCL), and Pākihi Trading Company. Both these companies have a group Board that oversees and monitors the business.
Whakatōhea Fisheries Asset Holding Company Ltd (WFAHCL)
The WFAHCL was established by the Whakatōhea Fisheries Trust. Its purpose is to receive and hold on behalf of the MIO, all settlement quota and income shares allocated by Te Ohu Kai Moana. It is responsible for providing dividends to the MIO, and is unable to undertake fishing, or hold a fishing permit. The WFAHCL reports directly to the MIO on a bi-monthly basis.
There are 5 directors appointed to WFAHCL. Two are represented by the Fisheries Trust and three are externally appointed. As the WFACHL is unable to fish or trade shares, they have partnered with 19 other Iwi to consolidate their fishing assets. This company is called the Iwi Collective Partnership.
Iwi Collective Partnership
In 2010, Whakatōhea joined the ICP collective made up of the following twelve Iwi: Ngai Te Rangi, Nga Rauru, Ngati Awa, Ngati Manawa, Ngati Porou, Ngati Ruanui, Taranaki iwi, Ngai Tai, Te Rarawa, Tuwharetoa, and Te Arawa. The arrangement was to collectivise knowledge and expertise of the fishing industry, share costs and benefits of any new opportunity or investment and identify strategic partners.
The ICP has seven directors and a General Manager who oversee and manages our ICP ACE inshore and deep-sea, ICP koura operations, and ICP koura facilities. The Collective is now an influential partner alongside of Sealord, Moana New Zealand, Port Nicholson Fisheries and PelcoNZ as 90% of these companies are owned by our membership.
The relationships between the collective and Iwi have strengthened where significant support was provided throughout the COVID space by leveraging the relationships we have.
Today, the partnership now accommodates 19 Iwi who see the sense in collectivising assets to gain better returns and strategic partnerships.
Pakihi Trading Company Ltd (PTCL)
Pakihi Trading Company Ltd was established to explore opportunities the WFAHCL is unable to undertake in the fishing and aquaculture industries. It’s first investment has been to purchase six lines from Whakatōhea mussels, Ōpōtiki Ltd to provide future dividends to hapū. Pakihi Trading Company has been involved with the mussel company for three years.
Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board applied for a resource consent to Bay of Plenty Regional Council, and was approved to establish a marine farm on 957ha of water space. This consent now sits with Pakihi Trading Company to progress and develop future opportunities. The Trust Board is also exploring another application for 4,043ha of water space from settlement negotiations and this will come under PTCL to manage and grow.
During the late 1990s the Crown sought to amend existing legislation and introduce new legislation relating to aquaculture management in the coastal marine area. The possibility of conflict between the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the proposed aquaculture reforms was raised in claims before the Waitangi Tribunal.
The Waitangi Tribunal considered that the proposed reforms would breach the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, as it found Māori have an interest in marine farming that forms part of a bundle of rights in the coastal marine area that represent a taonga protected by Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
The Settlement Act was a legislated response to give effect to the findings and recommendations of the Waitangi Tribunal. The Settlement Act provides a full and final settlement of Māori claims to commercial aquaculture arising on or after 21 September 1992; and provides for the allocation and management of settlement assets relating to aquaculture.
The Settlement Act requires that iwi are provided with 20% of all new aquaculture space created through the establishment of “aquaculture management areas” from 1 January 2005. The Settlement Act also establishes the Crown’s obligation to provide coastal iwi with the equivalent of 20% of the aquaculture space created between 21 September 1992 and 31 December 2004, including any space that was approved under the Marine Farming Act 1971 or Fisheries Act 1983 but issued after 1 January 2005. This is called pre-commencement space and is defined in section 20 of the Settlement Act.
The Settlement Act further provides that all settlement assets are to be transferred to Te Ohu Kai Moana Trustee Limited as trustee of the Māori Commercial Aquaculture Settlement Trust (also known as Takutai Trust). The trustee then allocates the settlement assets to iwi aquaculture organisations within a particular region, or harbour, once all the iwi within a region have attained iwi aquaculture organisation status, and the settlement asset entitlements and allocations have been determined.
Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board (IAO)
The Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board is the mandated Iwi Aquaculture Organisation (IAO) under the Māori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004 (the Act). The Act establishes the responsibility of the Crown to provide Iwi, through Iwi Aquaculture Organisations (IAOs), with the equivalent of 20% of all aquaculture space in a region. Iwi have the option to receive cash, space or a combination of both if they choose to develop their aquaculture aspirations. Any assets returned to Whakatōhea will be transferred to an aquaculture entity set up with the Whakatōhea Fisheries Trust.
In order for the assets to be returned to Iwi, a technical amendment to the legislation of the Māori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004 was required. Ten submissions were made with eight being by Iwi. Whakatōhea, Te Arawa and Te Ohu Kai Moana made submissions and were invited to present in person. Having now reached its third reading it is now on its way to being enacted by parliament, this is a significant step for all iwi as we work to negotiate individual regional agreements.