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Hui Report April 2006

Hokianga Accord Hui Report

Whitiora Marae

15 May 2006
Page 2

(PDF 640Kb)

A hui to provide for the input and participation of tangata whenua having a non-commercial interest in fisheries, an interest in the effects of fishing on the aquatic environment and having particular regard to kaitiakitanga.

6 - 7 April 2006


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Ngati Wai Involvement
Eel (Tuna) Management
Concerns about MFish Processes


Ngati Wai Involvement

Himiona Munroe, Trust Board member, Ngati Wai

Ngati Wai acknowledged the relationship they have with Ngapuhi. They appreciated the opportunity to listen to the korero, gain an understanding of what was happening but had not come to the hui to give a position.

Himiona accepted that they still had some work to do to bring all of Ngati Wai together and advised MFish they had not reached total agreement yet. Ngati Wai do not believe they have a good relationship with the Ministry of Fisheries but acknowledged the work of the Pou Hononga and the MFish staff they had dealt with.


Eel (Tuna) Management

Hirini Henare, Ngapuhi

The sustainable management of eel (tuna) in inland areas was one of the first subjects raised at the hui. Ministry's interpretation of sustainability and changes to the regulations had non-commercial fishermen limited to taking six eels per day. In contrast, commercial fishers were permitted to set as many nets as they could in the same rivers the locals gathered their daily sustenance from. If the Ministry were intent on establishing one Forum to discuss sustainability then eel management discussions must be part of the wider Forum issues.

Sonny endorsed this sentiment and agreed those discussions were relevant to this Forum.

Mark Edwards

Fisheries Policy Manager, Ministry of Fisheries

MFish had different and very specific obligations to Maori as opposed to other stakeholders. Section 12 of the Fisheries Act 1996 clearly spelt out that the Ministry must not only have consultation with Maori but also provide for the input and participation of Maori in fisheries management.

In respect of getting all stakeholders together in the same Forum, he agreed. “"We are interested in progressing fisheries plans."”

Jonathan Peacey was at the hui to discuss Fisheries Plans and what fisheries they would cover.

The Ministry had moved into a different management regime for eels. There was now a constraint on total take of eels to ensure sustainability. Eel management was not as straightforward as other species, as they had licences and characteristics that meant output controls didn't work. Within the system the Fisheries Act provided for allocations to be made to different sectors. Commercial fishers had been allocated a quota.

“"The recreational allowance or allocation is a quantification. The way the Crown manages that is generally by setting controls, the most important of which is the bag limit. And that's the six that applies to, I assume it applies to, your take of eels under the recreational limit.”


“"Of course, as Maori, there are other options that are available as a result of the Settlement in terms of the customary regulations, and the ability to authorise greater levels of take. Customary regulations exist in freshwater in the South Island but not, as yet, in the North Island. That is something that is subject to ongoing discussion with the Crown."”


Concerns about MFish Processes

Regional Forums

Jeff Romeril, President, NZ Big Game Fishing Council

The NZBGFC were pleased to hear Mark endorse the Hokianga Accord's view of greater amalgamation of the regional forums. From the Council's perspective there seemed to be some mistrust of the current regional recreational fishing forums structure. While they were viewed as an attempt to get feedback from the community, the Ministry of Fisheries were leading most of the forums.

The Ministry had invited well-intentioned people onto those forums but many were not as knowledgeable as they could be on matters affecting recreational fishers. Forum members were taking advice from MFish personnel, who they perceived were offering rational options, with some very important management options being omitted from that advice.

Part of the mistrust stemmed from feedback received from some Council members who had participated in various regional recreational forums. The recording of some of the Forum meetings was less than desirable; the records were taken by MFish staff and were not minutes, purely notes that were circulated. There was an issue of transparency and recording, which left the process and meetings open to criticism.

There was an imbalance of information and the knowledge base of some of the participants in the forums was lacking.

Jodi Mantle

Northern Inshore team Manager, Ministry of Fisheries

Minutes had been taken at the Forum meetings Jodi had been involved in. The draft minutes had been distributed amongst Forum members for comment and verified as being correct at the next meeting of the group. Problems with the new internet site had caused delays in having the Forum meetings minutes posted online. Jodi believed MFish processes were transparent in the forums that she had dealt with.

Public Awareness

Judah Heihei, Ngapuhi Trust Board member and Bay of Islands kaitiaki

Judah explained to the Ministry representatives the frustration felt by his hapu when they had tried to establish a mataitai in the Bay of Islands area. He did not consider MFish had been helpful with the attempted implementation of the Marangai Taiamai management plan. The Ministry had left Maori to face public opposition on its own, without any assistance in public education or awareness.

It also seemed the Ministry of Fisheries were doing their best to prevent the Hokianga Accord from succeeding and having recreational Pakeha and Maori fishers working together for sustainability of the resource. He felt they had received more information from the recreational fishing sector than from their own Treaty partner, the Crown. 

“"Please help us so we can help you. But if you continue to go down the track you are going there is no future for all of us."”

Mark Edwards

Fisheries Policy Manager, Ministry of Fisheries

Mark acknowledged Judah's korero and recognised his frustration at being let down by the system. MFish acknowledged the need for more education of the public regarding fisheries issues, management and also the Crown's obligations to Maori. There was a lot of misunderstanding and suspicion about mataitai and Maori customary tools and the Ministry accepted they needed to try and address that lack of understanding, “"so the tools can be used constructively, as they were intended".

When asked directly about when MFish would be providing the Marangai Taiamai management committee with funding for public awareness Mark responded, “"In the first instance that would be our [MFish] role, we don't expect you to take that on".

Ministry were encouraged to give the funding to the Hokianga Accord so the Forum could complete the public education role. The presence of many of the Bay of Islands recreational fishing representatives at the hui was an encouraging start to try and get the message out to the wider Bay community.

Scott Macindoe


Recreational fishing representatives acknowledged tangata whenua and other iwi at the hui and their acceptance that the Pakeha representatives present could add value to the discussions. Pakeha had learnt a great deal since working with the Hokianga Accord and tangata whenua. It was now the job of those representatives to share that understanding with the wider community.

Many of the fishing representatives did not believe the Ministry had the capacity or capability to educate the public about customary management tools. Past fisheries management decisions were evidence of how poorly MFish conducted this factor of their business.

Part of the learning had been in relation to how little legislative support there is, aside from section 21, for recreational fishers, and how much statutory support there is regarding the Crown's obligations to tangata whenua. How that message is portrayed to the public had yet to be determined.

Scott empathised with Judah and his Marangai Taiamai management team. It was almost the “"shifting goalposts"”syndrome.

Public awareness is the key. Ministry had made no effort to educate the public regarding alternative management tools, including customary. The hui participants were the conduits for this message and MFish were asked to empower the Forum so that everyone could go out to their communities and educate people on the fisheries management tools available and alternatives to marine reserves.

Recreational Fishing Forums

The Ministry, through the establishment of the politically appointed Ministerial and regional recreational fishing forums, had treated people who had worked voluntarily for decades to secure a better fishing future with maximum disrespect.

The establishment of those forums did not take into account the NZ Recreational Fishing Council, whose executive and membership had tried for many years to represent the public. Keith Ingram, John Hough (deceased), Ross Gildon and Bob Burstall were acknowledged.

The NZ Big Game Fishing Council and their executive including John Chibnall, Jeff Romeril and Richard Baker had also done their best. Ministry had ignored that effort, to their shame.


Fisheries Management

John Holdsworth, Fisheries scientist, NZ Big Game Fishing Council

The Hokianga Accord worked well because Maori and Pakeha had similar interests in non-commercial fisheries, not necessarily customary and recreational separately.

Many of the concerns expressed at the hui related to fisheries management on a scale that was too large to address local concerns. There had been talk of localised depletion in the Bay of Islands, Te Puna inlet and local rivers. The Snapper 1 (SNA1) management area includes the marine area from North Cape to Cape Runaway on the East Coast. This large-scale management was not delivering good outcomes for some of the people at the hui.

The following questions were put to the Ministry team -

  1. Is the Ministry committed to dealing with localised depletion issues?
  2. How to MFish propose to deal with these issues?
  3. How are the Ministry going to resource outcomes to better provide for people’s non-commercial fishing interests?
  4. Regarding commercial fishers and Ministry engagement with them, what was the nature of their engagement?
  5. Is there a northern regional fishers association that the Hokianga Accord could be dealing with, or are the organisations more nationally based? 

The Ministry team were advised that they were more likely to get buy-in from the public when their processes started delivering results for the people, instead of more meetings.

Mark Edwards

Fisheries Policy Manager, Ministry of Fisheries

MFish considered the Shared Fisheries Policy Development process currently underway would address local issues. Ministry had identified that managing some fisheries at the Quota Management Area level was not sufficient to provide for people's needs. There were some mechanisms provided for in the Fisheries Act 1996, and some of which related specifically to providing obligations to Maori - spatial tools and also section 311, which provided for the exclusion of commercial methods from particular areas.

Currently MFish were dealing with national commercial fishers organisations but there was some work underway to form commercial stakeholder organisations (CSO's) that would represent quota holders in a particular area. There are no associations that were comparable to the scale of the regional recreational fishing forums.


Crown's Obligations

Larry Baldock, United Future Party Representative

This was Larry's third attendance at a Hokianga Accord hui and he was stunned by the Ministry's comments. MFish explained their obligation to consult with Maori and yet the first principle of consultation was listening to what the other party had to say. More so since Maori were a Treaty partner and the Crown had a statutory obligation to do more than just listen.

“"There are many of us who believe the Treaty was about a marriage not a partnership. It's meant to be so much more exciting than a cold hard contract. But the Crown fails to understand that, often. And it's being replicated here.


“"Those of us who have been coming on this journey to the Hokianga Accord have actually started to fall in love with tangata whenua. It's actually really exciting. The people who used to say, ‘"bloody Maoris" are now saying, they're out mates. We are actually really excited about what they are about because it's actually what we are about too. And yet the Ministry come in and listen to the leaders of this Hokianga Accord, tangata whenua, and they are saying we want to consult with our manuhiri as well, and the Crown is saying no.


“"Did I hear you right? You will not sign an MOU that includes Pakeha? I just cannot fathom that. It's going to do your job for you.


“"Are you saying that you will not let tangata whenua, who you are statutorily obliged to communicate with, tell you how they want that communication to take place? Because if you are saying that I think you are missing something really important."”


Mark Edwards

Fisheries Policy Manager, Ministry of Fisheries

“"I think I understand what you are asking. But I think you are misinterpreting what I am saying.


“"What we are saying is, we have different sorts of obligations set out in the Fisheries Act. And a range of processes by which we try and keep things. We are discussing a mixture here, by default, of the audience and the context.


“"We have been talking Ngapuhi principally, but we would like to expand that to the other hapu in the mid-north about an engagement to effect our obligations to tangata whenua and separately but in a related way, of this idea of an MOU which there is this Government approved framework for engaging.

“"The situation has got more complex because Ngapuhi have invited recreational fishers to be part of the Forum. We've acknowledged throughout this process that of course that's their prerogative to do that. Certainly we can't prevent it nor should we necessarily wish to prevent it. But to the extent we are going to use those Government guidelines about MOU with Maori to have a formal agreement that's the process by which we will use.


“"We also have an ongoing intent, consistent with what we are doing across the country, to meet our specific and different obligations to tangata whenua through the regional Forum, to progress that model......that doesn't discount future models. Our future model for achieving even wider discussion with everybody who's concerned about fisheries management through Fisheries Plans."”

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