< May 2024 newsletter

Hauraki Gulf Fishery Closures Set to Extend

Fisheries New Zealand is seeking public feedback after a request from iwi to extend the temporary closure of specific fishery sites in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. 

The application was submitted by several iwi who have had their Fisheries Act 1996 section 186A temporary closures formally in place for successive years - Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki (10+years), Ngāti Tamaterā (4 years), Ngāti Pāoa (2 years), Ngāti Hei (2 years). The application for closure also includes a request from Ngāti Rehua Ngātiwai ki Aotea for an extension of a Controlled Area Notice in relation to the exotic Caulerpa seaweed. A Controlled Area Notice under the Biosecurity Act 1993 limits the methods of fishing and prohibits anchoring in the specified area.

The closure request states that: “All New Zealanders view the notion of gathering kaimoana and fishing as their right. Unfortunately, current pressure on our taonga species is not only unacceptable, but also unsustainable”

If approved, the taking of some shellfish species from specified areas would be prohibited for a further two years, says Emma Taylor, director of fisheries management. (The request from the applicants was for six years, but the legislation only provides for a two-year temporary closure).

Section 186A of the Fisheries Act 1996 empowers the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries to temporarily close an area, or temporarily restrict or prohibit the use of any fishing method in respect of an area, if satisfied that the closure, restriction, or prohibition will recognise and provide for the use and management practices of tangata whenua in the exercise of non-commercial fishing rights.

If the Minister enacts a temporary closure under s 186A in the Hauraki Gulf, customary fishing permits cannot be issued for that area. (NB: This is a clarification from Fisheries New Zealand, correcting their earlier statement that suggested customary fishing permits could still be issued during such closures.)

Anyone who contravenes a 186A Temporary closure notice is up for a $5,000 fine if an individual, or $100,000 fine if for commercial use.

Summary of proposed closures:

  • Waiheke Island. Prohibit the taking of mussels, rock lobster, pāua, and beach cast scallops from the foreshore to one nautical mile offshore. (The taking of other scallops is already prohibited)
  • Umupuia Beach (also known as Duder’s Beach). Prohibit the taking of cockles.
  • Te Mātā and Waipatukahu (West Coromandel coast). Prohibit the taking of oysters, mussels, pipi, and cockles.
  • East Coromandel coast. Prohibit the taking scallops except beach cast scallops.

N.B. The Ngāti Hei closure request on the East Coromandel coast was withdrawn from the original application and re-issued under a separate application. Find a copy of their application HERE. Submissions are due by 7 June.

The temporary closures are one step in a long-term strategy

The closure requests are part of a rāhui research project, based at Waikato University. The all-Māori Pou Rāhui Research team intends to develop a model of environmental monitoring to be led by iwi to understand change occurring in the environment by which iwi can decide when and where to apply interventions including rāhui.

The closure request lodged by Ngati Hei reveals that the Pou Rāhui initiative is aimed at asserting “our tino rangatiratanga* over our taonga species.”

(*tino rangatiratanga: self-determination, sovereignty, autonomy, self-government, domination, rule, control, power - Te Aka Māori Dictionary)

Further aims of the Pou Rāhui Project include:

  • Changes to marine legislation to better reflect and include iwi.
  • An action plan to increase political representation and participation [of iwi] to ensure continuity of the key objectives of Pou Rāhui, and the empowerment of iwi is realised.
  • Marine protection and fisheries management policies in the Gulf reflect a true co-designed process with iwi.
  • Contemporary marine management is mātauranga-led and resourced.
  • Kaitiaki manage the improved stocks.
  • A model is developed for other whānau, hapū and iwi to follow, and within 10 years restoration strategies and rāhui management practices are rolled out across New Zealand.
  • The next generation of kaitiaki [guardian or trustee] practitioners are trained in localised environmental knowledge, monitoring, education, compliance, and enforcement. This has already begun. For instance, Ngāti Tamaterā has joined MPI as Honorary Fishery Officers to patrol the Hauraki Gulf coastline, giving iwi the ability to educate people about fishing rules and compliance. Ngāti Tamatera have warned: “Our kaitiaki are absolutely frustrated by those who infringe repeatedly and are prepared to get aggressive.”

Advocating for a ban on seafood gathering is one thing, using this as a means to gain political power and control is an entirely different matter.

Read the full closure request by clicking HERE.

The request for further extension of temporary closure states the purpose for closure is to replenish taonga species “to ensure the customary practice of gathering kaimoana for whānau (recreational take) and for tribal gatherings such as hui (meetings), tangihanga (funerals), wānanga (workshops) and marae hui. But more importantly, the value of manaakitanga [hospitality], hosting our manuwhiri [visitors/guests] can be upheld.” 

Over fishing has led to the necessity of banning seafood harvesting to replenish a species. However, allowing for customary take is not best practice, as shown in a study into the collapse of the toheroa population. Despite 40 years of protection, albeit still allowing for customary take by Māori, the toheroa population has failed to recover. Harvesting by customary fishers and poaching are mentioned as significant factors.

If the closure request is approved, the iwi involved are likely to experience an additional benefit, that is, the strengthening of their claims for customary title and customary rights under the Marine and Coastal Area Act. To establish customary marine title, it must be demonstrated that the applicant group holds the specified area in accordance with tikanga. Placing a rāhui over an area is an expression of tikanga.


Fisheries NZ invites written submissions from anyone who has an interest in the species concerned or in the effects of fishing in the areas concerned.

Submissions can be made by email before by 5pm on 7 June 2024

Making your submission

State in your submission which area or areas you are commenting on.

Email your submission to [email protected]

Or you can post your submission to:

Spatial Allocations
Fisheries Management
Fisheries New Zealand
PO Box 2526
Wellington 6140




Go back to the May 2024 newsletter


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The Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan (the Plan) has recently been approved by the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries and is now being implemented. Under this plan the control of the fisheries has been taken out of the hands of democratically accountable representatives, now to be managed in a co-governance arrangement between Māori and Crown agencies. Continue reading

Mātaitai Reserves - another vehicle for tribal control of the coast

Those seeking to gain control of the coastline are not confined to making claims under the Marine and Coastal Area Act. Although not in the same league as the nearly 600 claims under the Act, there are also a growing number of areas approved as special customary management zones, such as mātaitai reserves, (customary fishing reserves), and taiapure, (local fisheries which give Maori customary area management rights). We are also seeing increased calls by Maori entities for temporary closures and restrictions on fishing methods, and the introduction of fisheries bylaws. Continue reading

Another Day, Another Rāhui

Ngāti Hei Trust has requested a temporary closure to the eastern Coromandel scallop fishery, citing the degradation of the scallop bed in their application. After a “successful” voluntary rāhui over summer, the iwi now wish to make it official for another two years, and have vastly extended the area under the rāhui -  from Opito Bay to Anarake Point in the north, to Opoutere in the south, stretching 12 nautical miles offshore, to include the islands of Repanga/Cuvier, Ahuahu/Great Mercury, Ohinau, Whakahau/Slipper and the Alderman Islands.  Continue reading