Mātaitai reserve set up on south Waikato coast
9 April 2008
The Aotea Harbour mātaitai reserve has been set up on the south-west coast of the Waikato, Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton said today.
The mātaitai reserve encompasses Aotea Harbour and the coastal waters outside the harbour. The reserve covers approximately 40 km2.
Mātaitai reserves are established under customary fishing regulations and recognise traditional Māori fishing-grounds that are important for customary food-gathering. They also allow the local tangata whenua to advise the Minister of Fisheries directly on how best to manage fishing in the area.
Jim Anderton said this mātaitai reserve would allow Ngā Hapū o Aotea Moana to more effectively manage non-commercial fishing in these important traditional fishing-grounds.
“The reserve recognises the strong and enduring connection the hapū has with this area.”
Commercial fishing will be banned within the mātaitai reserve, but recreational and customary fishing will still be allowed. Recreational fishing will not require a permit from local Māori.
“The Aotea Harbour mātaitai reserve will have no effect on the local community’s ability to go fishing or gather shellfish under the existing recreational allowances.”
In the future, the Tangata Kaitiaki (guardians) for the mātaitai reserve may recommend bylaws to the Minister of Fisheries that could impose some restrictions within the boundaries of the reserve. Any restrictions would apply equally to everyone fishing within the reserve.
Customary seafood-gathering for Māori cultural purposes would be governed by authorisations issued by appointed guardians (rather than recreational regulations), as is currently the case for customary fishing around many areas of the North Island.
Jim Anderton said that as Minister, he was ultimately responsible for all New Zealand’s fisheries.
“I would carefully consider any fishing restriction recommended by the guardians but would have to approve them before they come into effect.”
He said he carefully considered the effect the mātaitai reserve would have on commercial fishers.
“I recognise the reserve will affect some commercial fishers but, overall, I do not believe those effects will prevent them from taking their catch entitlements.”
The mātaitai reserve will come into effect on 8 May 2008.
The proposal for this mātaitai reserve was extensively consulted on with the local community including two separate calls for written submissions, a public meeting and direct discussions with local Māori.