< July 2024 newsletter


Iwi-only fishing areas given thumbs up by select committee

The parliamentary select committee considering the Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill has presented its report to the House of Representatives. Notably, it has ignored coalition agreement promises by endorsing provisions granting race-based customary fishing in High Protection Areas (HPAs).

The National Party, in its coalition agreement with NZ First, pledged to defend the principle of equality before the law for all New Zealanders. A commitment was made to not advance policies that seek to ascribe different rights and responsibilities to New Zealanders based on race or ancestry, and to repeal or replace all references to the Treaty principles in legislation. (Coalition Agreement National Party & New Zealand First, Nov 2023)

The bill fails in this regard.

Despite acknowledging the receipt of a substantial number of submissions from members of the public who consider it unfair to allow customary fishing in HPAs, the committee does not consider it necessary to change any provisions in the bill regarding non-commercial customary fishing.

Additionally, the committee is opposed to any modification of the specified protected areas outlined in the bill, despite receiving numerous requests for changes from submitters. It argues that the designated protection areas are the result of an extensive consultation period, adding that they believe the proposed areas to be both pragmatic and fair, and altering their designation or boundaries would upset this balance and require further consultation.

The proposed customary fishing reserves are not small discrete areas in front of marae, but relatively large areas of the Hauraki Gulf, including favoured fishing spots such the Mokohinau Islands and the Noises.

The Environment Select Committee’s report is available on the Parliament website at this link.

In a move that promotes different rights based on race, and what appears to be a step towards achieving Iwi's objective of co-governance of the Gulf, proposals to develop biodiversity regulations in the Seafloor Protection Areas and the and High Protection Areas are to be developed in collaboration with whanau, hapu, and iwi that exercise ‘kaitiakitanga’ (guardianship/ management), (cl.66). Given the provision for customary fishing in these areas, such an arrangement could compromise the advancement of biodiversity regulations.

There is no good reason to provide for customary fishing in High Protection Areas as under the proposed legislation over 80% of the Gulf will still be available for customary practices.

Since no-take marine reserves are scientifically proven to be the most effective form of marine protection, engaging in fishing activities, whether ‘customary’ or otherwise, undermines the proven benefits of designated protected areas and diminishes the credibility of conservation objectives aimed at revitalisng the Gulf. It must also be noted that in 1840, when Tiriti o Waitangi was signed, the Māori population was estimated at 70,000 to 90,000 people. StatsNZ tells us that the New Zealand’s estimated Māori population is now 904,100. This 10-fold increase in population must have a bearing on the viability of continuing to allow for the practice of ‘customary fishing’ in protected areas, let alone the use of modern fishing gear, including motorboats, fish finders, nylon fishing lines and metal hooks, scuba diving gear, spearguns etc.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

We still have an opportunity to influence this legislation before it moves to the House of Representatives for debate. If you value equality before the law for all New Zealanders and oppose the creation of two classes of citizens with different rights based on ancestry, please contact your MP and other key politicians. Encourage them to either reject or make amendments to the Bill to uphold the principle of equality for all New Zealanders.

Please email:

The Prime Minister Christopher Luxon: [email protected]

Deputy PM Winston Peters: [email protected]

Act Leader David Seymour: [email protected]

Deputy leader NZ First Shane Jones: [email protected]

Also, the four National MPs and the ACT MP on the Environment Select Committee:

Scott Simpson (National):  [email protected]

Mike Butterick (National): [email protected]

Dr Hamish Campbell (National): [email protected]

Katie Nimon (National): [email protected]

Simon Court (ACT): [email protected]

References

DOC: New marine protections in the Hauraki Gulf/Tīkapa Moana

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