13 Jan 2016

Govt trading treaty rights for votes with marine park - iwi

5:52 pm on 13 January 2016

The government is trying to trade Māori treaty rights for Auckland votes with plans for a new recreational fishing park, say local iwi.

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Photo: Wikicommons

Twelve iwi of Hauraki Gulf, or Tikapa Moana, have jointly expressed opposition to the government's proposal to restrict commercial fishing in most of the inner Hauraki Gulf.

The Hauraki Māori Trust Board, Ngāti Whātua Runanga and the Ngātiwai Trust Board said the Auckland fishing park is planned to be established through a fast track process, piggy-backing on a fundamental revamp of the marine reserves legislation.

The iwi are calling it a proposed forced taking of Treaty rights which were small compensation for the actual losses suffered under Treaty breaches by former governments.

Despite the government offering compensation if fishing rights were changed, they said it was no substitute for what their ancestors handed down to them.

David Taipari - the chairperson of the Hauraki Māori Trust Board - said: "Our Treaty settlements were hard won over many generations and this announcement by the government flies in the face of everything we've fought for. We oppose our Treaty settlement fishing quota being forcibly taken from us and will do what we need to do to stop."

He also said "fisheries have always been part of our history since the beginning and we will not be giving that up for anyone. Money is no substitute for what our ancestors handed down to us. Iwi would need to be convinced that the government has considered all other options such as regulating the effects of commercial recreational operators."

The proposed location for a Hauraki Gulf Recreational Fishing Park

The proposed location for a Hauraki Gulf Recreational Fishing Park Photo: Ministry for the Environment

Russel Kemp, chairperson of Ngāti Whātua Runanga, said iwi have fishing rights through a Treaty Settlement with the Crown and those rights will not be diminished over time.

"The Fisheries Settlement was the culmination of a long and difficult struggle to gain recognition of Māori fishing rights. The government has to recognise that Māori fishing rights are not only customary rights but also extend to cultural and commercial rights," said Mr Kemp

Ngātiwai Trust Board chairperson Haydn Edmonds said iwi, along with recreational and commercial fishing sectors, the farming community, shipping companies and others, were working with government departments on the Sea Change Hauraki Gulf marine spatial plan project, a process to better manage the demands placed on the Hauraki Gulf.

"Iwi entered into Sea Change in good faith, understanding that they would be listened to and that their Treaty rights would be protected and upheld. Establishment of the recreational fishing park pre-empts the outcome of this process and is an example of bad faith," Mr Edmonds said.

Submissions on the proposals can be made until 11 March.