First extension granted for Mataitai Reserve
18 October 2007
The first extension of a Mataitai Reserve in New Zealand has been granted for the Raukokore Mataitai Reserve along the eastern Bay of Plenty, near Te Kaha. Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton said today that the extension will allow the Trust to manage customary fishing more effectively.
Mataitai Reserves recognise traditional fishing grounds of tangata whenua that are important for customary food gathering.
“The extension increases the size of the Reserve to include the Trust Board’s entire Rohe Moana (marine area), which local Kaitiaki currently manage,” Jim Anderton said. “This extension was possible after an appeal process relating to the boundaries of their Rohe Moana had been resolved.”
Jim Anderton said he carefully considered the effect the extension would have on commercial fishermen. “It will affect a few, but the effects are limited. The extension satisfied all relevant criteria in the Kaimoana Customary Fishing Regulations and will better provide for the customary interests of iwi and hapu in the area.”
The extension will have no effect on the ability of the local community to take fish, aquatic life, or seaweed for non-commercial purposes. However, in the future the Tangata Kaitiaki/Tiaki (guardians) for the Mataitai Reserve may recommend bylaws that could have an effect on this ability. Any such recommendations will be considered on their merits.
The extension encompasses the western side of Raukokore Bay and will increase the size of the Mataitai Reserve from 19km2 to 27km2.
The Mätaitai Reserve was established in 2005 and in 2006 Te Whanau a Maruhaeremuri Hapu Trust Board applied to the Minister of Fisheries to extend the Reserve.
The legal perspective
The statutory obligations for establishing mätaitai reserves are based on the agreements expressed in the 1992 Deed of Settlement. Under the Deed of Settlement, the Crown recognises that non-commercial customary fisheries are of importance to Maori. The Deed of Settlement changed the status of non-commercial customary fishing rights so that they no longer give rise to legal claims under the Treaty of Waitangi against the Crown.
Non-commercial customary fishing rights continue to be subject to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, which give rise to obligations on the Crown. The three basic principles that arise from the Treaty of Waitangi are:
- An obligation to act in good faith towards iwi and hapu
- An obligation to make informed decisions with respect to the impacts of the decisions on non-commercial customary fisheries interests of iwi and hapu
- The principle of active protection of the non-commercial fisheries interests of iwi and hapu, and the need to avoid the creation of new grievances in respect to those interests.
A mätaitai reserve effectively allows tangata whenua to manage local non-commercial fisheries, in partnership with the Ministry of Fisheries.
How the partnership between tangata whenua and government works
Tangata Kaitiaki, nominated by the tangata whenua, can manage their areas by recommending by-laws to the Minister of Fisheries. By-laws may restrict or prohibit the taking of fish from within the whole or any part of a mätaitai reserve for any purpose the Kaitiaki considers necessary for the sustainable utilisation of the resources in the reserve.
The Minister is ultimately responsible for New Zealand’s fisheries, and must sign off on any fishery management action recommended by a Tangata Kaitiaki before it becomes operative.
The Ministry of Fisheries provides the Tangata Kaitiaki with management support and recommendations, and also provides advice to the Minister of Fisheries on any management proposal.
For this reason, a partnership approach between tangata whenua and the Ministry is important.
Are mätaitai reserves just for tangata whenua?
Controls on non-commercial fishing within mätaitai reserves must apply equally to all people, with only one exception: if a reserve is closed for general harvesting, the Tangata Kaitiaki may approve the taking of seafood to meet the needs of the marae belonging to the tangata whenua of the reserve.