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Aquaculture apathy stagnating NZ's industry

NEW ZEALAND - Te Puni Kokiri (TPK) has spent more than $180,000 on seven information hui on aquaculture, but only 143 people turned up, says National's Fisheries spokesman, Phil Heatley. But the apathy is not surprising, particularly in Maori communities.

In the 2004 Aquaculture settlement, Maori were promised 20 per cent of existing aquaculture space, and 20 per cent of future space. Two-and-a-half years later, not a single hectare of the marine farming space promised to them has materialised.

According to answers to parliamentary questions, the hui cost $152,000 (GST inclusive) to prepare and a further $30,000 to present across the seven venues.

Meanwhile, government officials are outnumbering attendees at these 'talkfests' around the country.

At the Whanganui/Taranaki hui there were 10 officials and only five attendees. That cost TPK an astonishing $5,260 for every non-Government person who attended. In total, the cost was $21,700 for preparation and $4,600 for presentation.

The best attended hui in Gisborne only attracted 40 people and had 13 government officials tagging along.

It is way past time for action on aquaculture. The industry is stagnating, millions of dollars are being lost, and Labour doddles from hui to hui wasting taxpayers' money on chit chat.

Marine farmers hope to belong to a $1 billion industry - it patently isn't going to happen on Labour's watch."