This theses commences with a review of the salient features of Modernisation Theory , and the way in which this theory can be shaped to apply to the situation of Maori in New Zealand in the 1990s. The next two chapters look at the history leading up to the Sealord Deal and consider this period of development in conjunction with issues of Maori sovereignty. The focus is on the problematic issues surrounding the definitions of sovereignty, and issues of rights and ownership which flow from these definitions. Following on from this is a consideration of the Treaty of Waitangi as a reference point for establishing Maori rights to the fisheries, and how the provisions and principles of the Treaty have been applied through the mechanism of the Waitangi Tribunal. Chapters five and six cover the evolution of the New Zealand fishing industry from the early 1980s up until 1992. Attention is paid in particular to the effect of the substantial restructuring of the fishing industry during this period on Maori participation in commercial fisheries. The subsequent chapters analyse the content and nature of the Sealord Deal itself, the various responses from Maori and from politicians to the Deal, and consequences which flowed from the settlement. At this juncture, consideration is given to the divisions the Deal fostered among Maori, including the growing distinction between those Maori who identify as iwi Maori - basing their identity on ancestry, and those who perceive themselves as urban Maori - based on their present location. Finally, this thesis concludes that the Sealord Deal did not only fail to meet the expectations of Maori, but also that it can be seen as a ineffectual attempt on behalf of the Crown at achieving modernisation. By the end of 1992, most Maori were opposed to the Deal, and five years after the Sealord Deal was passed into law, issues relating to the allocation of benefits form the company have yet to be resolved.