< 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.


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]


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

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Need help with submitting on Hauraki Gulf Marine Protection Bill?

We are aware there is a wide range of views on how to protect the Gulf, which is why we were hesitant to include a form submission for the Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill.However, several people have asked for help. Accordingly, we have put together a simple submission, which you are welcome to use as a template for your own. Please click here to read. Continue reading

Submission on the Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill

We have put together a simple submission on the Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill, which you are welcome to use as a template for your own. Remember the final day for submissions is Wednesday 1 November. Continue reading

New marine protection reserves not created equal for all

Under special legislation recently introduced to parliament, marine protection areas are to triple the total area under protection in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. These areas include some of the most favoured fishing spots in the Gulf and the Coromandel coast, such as parts of the Mokohīnau Islands, the Noises, Aldermen Islands, western and northern Coromandel, Little Barrier Island, Kawau Island, and Tiritiri Matangi Island. Continue reading

Marine protection secondary to ‘customary rights’

Although all looks well on the surface, it is well documented that the Hauraki Gulf is under stress. Sedimentation, pollution, overfishing, and poor fishing practices are all taking their toll on these beautiful waters. Marine mammals, fish and seabird species are dwindling in numbers. So, not before time, plans are underway to reverse this decline and revitalise the Gulf. However, the plan comes with a few fish hooks of its own. Continue reading

Co-governance advocates bully dissenter on Hauraki Gulf Forum

  Below is an email sent to members of the Gulf Users Group on 28 April 2022: I am writing to bring your attention to an attempt by the Hauraki Gulf Forum’s co-chairs to muzzle Auckland Councillor John Watson, a Forum member, after he shared on social media our NZ Herald advertisement. This advert named the five local body councillors who voted to introduce a new 50:50 co-governance arrangement with mana whenua and ‘others’ to manage the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. Furthermore, these five Councillors failed to seek a mandate from the public and ignored the concerns of thousands that had signed our petition or emailed Forum members. Continue reading

Hauraki Gulf Forum votes on co-governance proposal

Thank you to all who joined the action over at the Gulf Users Group by signing their petition or sending a message to the elected members of the Hauraki Gulf Forum asking them to vote down the proposal to introduce 50/50 co-governance to the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. According to the Group, nearly 14,000 people signed the petition in just three weeks, and 2,400 individual emails were sent. Great response! Continue reading

Blatant grab for power over the Gulf – again!

Currently, the Hauraki Gulf Forum is considering recommendations put forward for what is explained in a report as ‘updating and strengthening the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act’. Several major changes are being proposed. Continue reading

Have your say on Waiheke Island rāhui

The Ministry of Primary Industries is calling for public submissions on the Ngāti Pāoa imposed rāhui around Waiheke Island. The closing date for submissions is Monday 22 March 2021. The ban relates to the harvesting of four species of kaimoana - i.e. scallops, mussels, crayfish and pāua - the aim being to restore their declining numbers. Continue reading

Who is running this country? Ngāti Pāoa takes the law into its own hands

An iwi on Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf has decided that it is they who should be in control of kaimoana around the island. Without gaining the legal authority to do so, Ngāti Pāoa has declared a ban on the gathering of certain species around the entire coastline of Waiheke. Continue reading

Treaty settlements over the Waitemata and Manukau Harbours, and the Hauraki Gulf

There is a very real danger co-governance arrangements like the Tūpuna Maunga Authority are being considered for the Waitemata and Manukau Harbours, and the Hauraki Gulf. Continue reading

Sea Change Advisory Committee appointed

The Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and the Minister of Fisheries Stuart Nash have selected the members of the ministerial advisory committee established to support the Government’s response to the Sea Change Tai Timu Tai Pari Marine Spatial Plan. The nine-person committee includes members with expertise in commercial and Māori fishing - including four mana whenua, fisheries management, environment, law and marine science. It will be co-chaired by Paul Majurey and Catherine Harland under a co-governance model. Continue reading

The battle for the control of the Hauraki Gulf

You may have read the article ‘Saving the Gulf: tradition holds key’ published in the NZ Herald on June 24 (copy below), which promotes the idea of ahu moana - 50:50 co-management arrangements between mana whenua and local communities covering the entire coastline of the Hauraki Gulf. Regrettably, the ahu moana proposals are not the only avenue being pursued for control of the Gulf. Communications consultant Fiona McKenzie, in her article ‘Who’s Protecting the Public Interest?’ warns us of that democratic governance of the Hauraki Gulf is being threatened on three fronts. Continue reading

Update on Sea Change - the Hauraki Gulf marine spatial plan

In last month’s DA Update, we reported that the Ministries of Conservation and Fisheries are in the process of setting up a Ministerial Advisory Committee, (MAC), the purpose of which is to “help shape the proposals, facilitate engagement with our Treaty Partners and stakeholders, and provide advice and report to the three Ministers – Environment, Conservation & Fisheries.” Continue reading

Invitation to hear Councillor Mike Lee speak on the Sea Change Plan

Democracy Action invites you to an address by Mike Lee – Waitemata and Gulf Ward Councillor on Auckland Council. Mike is very concerned about proposed threats to democracy as advocated in the Sea Change Hauraki Gulf Marine Spatial Plan. He outlined his concerns in an article first published in the Gulf News on 21 June, now available on Mike’s website HERE. Continue reading

October 2018 Bonus Edition

Several members who were unable to attend our special meeting on Sunday 7th October have requested a report on the ‘Sea Change versus democracy in the Hauraki Gulf’ presentation given by Auckland Councillor Mike Lee. Mike has been a local body representative in the Auckland region for over 26 years, having lived and worked in the Hauraki Gulf and Waitemata ward for most of his life. He was invited to address Democracy Action about the power play currently underway for the control of the Gulf. Continue reading

Hauraki Gulf Forum meeting - change of date and venue. Friday 8th February

Time: 2.00pm Venue: Room 1, Level 26, 135 Albert Street Auckland The Minister for Māori Development Nanaia Mahuta is to address the Forum. Public are welcome to attend. The agenda is available HERE. Continue reading

Sea Change Plan versus democracy in the Hauraki Gulf

Auckland Councillor Mike Lee speaks out on the high stakes power play over ownership and control of the Hauraki Gulf, in an article first published in the Gulf News on 21 June.  “The Hauraki Gulf belongs to all of us and should not be handed over to a non-democratic elite and their consultant advocates”, writes Mike. Read Mike’s excellent article HERE. Continue reading

Report on Hauraki Gulf Forum meeting, 19 February 2018

Before the meeting Janet waded through the agenda and the two main reports (by the Chair and acting CEO), which revealed three key and recurring items: They are 1. To enable Mana Whenua to have a greater role in the Hauraki Gulf Forum 2. To continue work towards the “New Governance Model” Continue reading