< November 2022 newsletter

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.

Science (and common sense) show that benefits increase when an area is fully protected. Current no-take marine reserves (designated under the Marine Reserves Act) are the most effective way to restore health and biodiversity of marine areas. We can see the direct benefit of no-take marine reserves at Goat Island and the Poor Knights. Despite this, the Government’s recently released ‘Revitalising the Gulf’ proposals do not include one single ‘no-take’ area. Instead, DOC proposes new legislation with the following provisions:

12 High Protection Areas (HPAs): To protect and enhance marine habitats and ecosystems, all commercial and recreational fishing will be prohibited. However, these areas will still allow for customary practices by local iwi, including fishing.

This right will be exclusive to iwi, and at their discretion.

2 further protected areas: These will be adjacent to existing marine reserves at Cathedral Cove (Whanganui-a-Hei) and Cape Rodney (Okakari Point). These will be either new High Protection Areas or extensions to the existing marine reserves (as recommended in The Sea Change Plan, a plan developed by a co-governed working group). However, during Revitalising the Gulf’s development, concerns were raised about the impact of such extensions on the customary practices of iwi. DOC has since engaged further with local iwi to help determine what protection tool would be most appropriate in these areas, meaning these areas could also be designated HPAs.

 5 Seafloor Protection Areas: To protect sensitive sea floor habitats while allowing for compatible activities.

The above proposals were developed following DOC engagement with 28 iwi and 2 iwi collectives. Furthermore, in 2023 DOC intends to work in partnership with local iwi to understand their interests and to identify their biodiversity objectives for each HPA site. Their intention is for the objectives to be refined over time based on the best available information, including Mātauranga Māori. DOC proposes that iwi have the option to design their own customary practice management plans (CPMPs) over the areas. CPMPs will provide for iwi to exercise authority over these areas.

‘High Protection Areas,’ which will allow customary take rights, make the stated objective of marine protection secondary to iwi fishing concessions. In effect, what is being proposed are exclusive–to–iwi fishing grounds. 

Up until now, customary practices by iwi in otherwise closed marine spaces have covered relatively small areas, for instance, adjacent to a marae. However, as you can see on the ‘Location of the marine protection proposals’ map below, this is about to change. Several HPAs cover large areas, including some of the best fishing spots in the Gulf and off the Coromandel coast.

Customary fishing in High Protection Areas is unnecessary - under the proposed plan, over 80% of the Gulf will still allow customary and recreational fishing rights to be exercised - by all citizens.

Further legislation to come

The Government intends to extend marine protection over the next few years. According to Nicola MacDonald, Hauraki Gulf Forum co-chair and acting CEO of Ngāti Manuhiri Settlement Trust, this current 'Revitalising the Gulf' plan is an important first step towards the Forum’s ambition for at least 30 per cent marine protection.

Revitalising the Gulf includes a roadmap of actions across marine protection, fisheries management, aquaculture, active habitat restoration, marine biosecurity, protected species, research monitoring and reporting, and ahu moana (localised marine management by local communities and iwi). DOC and Fisheries NZ intend to implement these actions over the next three years and beyond.

The proposed new bill would not uphold equal rights

Equality before the law is an important part of our constitutional arrangements. It is also promised in Article 3 of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, which promises "ngā tikanga katoa rite tahi" - equal rights for all.

More recently, the United Nations has confirmed equality before the law as a fundamental human right. Therefore, it follows that all citizens should be provided with the same rights and responsibilities under our laws.

It is possible that iwi would gain a whole lot more respect if they joined all others who are forgoing their customary right to fish in marine protected areas.

Iwi plans to muscle in on policing of fisheries 

In a prime example of hypocritical thinking, the Ngāti Manuhiri iwi has purchased three ex-Police boats to monitor fishers in the Gulf, citing concerns about overfishing. (This is one of the tribes that will benefit from the exclusive–to–iwi fishing grounds). "Our role will be to work alongside Fisheries, raise that awareness with good clear communication, but ensure to take only what you're allowed to because if you keep taking more, there's nothing left for everyone else”, said Ngāti Manuhiri acting chief executive Nicola McDonald.

Ngāti Manuhiri hopes they will become “deputised” officers or honorary fisheries officers, who have the power to search, question and seize.


DOC: Revitalising the Gulf marine protection proposals information document

DOC:  Revitalising the Gulf: Government action on the Sea Change Plan

MPI: Revitalising the Hauraki Gulf: Government action on the sea change plan

The Fishing website: Government Announces Hauraki Gulf Strategy

Media coverage

Coromandel FM: https://cfm.co.nz/news/hauraki-and-coromandel-marine-protection-areas-proposed-by-doc/

Stuff: Auckland iwi take the helm of fisheries enforcement

Newshub: Auckland iwi worried about overfishing as they take on major project to protect Hauraki Gulf

Go back to the November 2022 newsletter


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

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