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Mataitai - Presentation To NZ Recreational Fishing Council AGM

by Sonny Tau

8-10 July 2005


Introduction Taiapure
Manakitanga How can taiapure and mataitai assist?
Recreational fishing interests Mataitai
MFish obligations Representation of Ngapuhi interests
Where to from here?  


Tena ra koutou katoa. Greetings and salutations again.

I hope you enjoyed the session this morning as I have a lot more time this afternoon, which I want to use positively.

The purpose of this session is to provide the Maori interpretation, specifically mine, of management tools provided in legislation and means in which these tools can assist the non-commercial fishing sector.

Tangata whenua possess a long-standing tradition of living at one with the environment and its natural resources.

Right: Sonny Tau addresses the NZRFC AGM in Wellington, July 2005.

(Photo courtesy of Sam Mossman and the NZ Fishing News.)

This is achieved through intellectual knowledge, values and principles contained in an ancient cultural framework, a millennium history and a conservation management record second to none with all systems considered, whenua te tangata, tangata te whenua, land is of the people, people are of the land.

It must be remembered that Maori injuncted the government, questioning their absolute freedom to sell all commercial fishing interests to overseas companies without giving due cognisance to article ii of Te Tiriti O Waitangi, which I assume you are all familiar with having taken history lessons at school?

Anyway article ii states in part: "the queen of England agrees and consents (to give) to the chiefs, hapu and all the people of NZ, the full chieftainship (rangatiratanga) of their lands, villages and all their possessions (taonga-everything that is held precious)." Maori were successful in their court action, which set off a chain of events pertaining to providing for these provisions.

I hold the view that ever since the Sealords deal of 1992, which shored up the commercial rights to these taonga, the other side of the equation has, by and large been neglected, that is - customary rights - or Maori being able to fish for sustenance, a practice as old as time itself.

As we follow the whakapapa of the fishing regulations from just prior to the Sealords deal, we will find that successive governments have been floundering around trying to find a balance between giving effect to these rights as well as those of recreational fishers.  

What perhaps they didn't realise by signing the Sealords deal was, that up until 23 September 1992, when Maori went fishing to feed our babies, we were fishing customarily. Immediately the Government signed off the Sealords deal, 99.999% of the time Maori now go fishing to feed our babies, we are categorised as recreational fishers.  

From that day forward, Maori customary fishing, as we knew it, changed forever. Maori fishing to feed our babies and recreational fishers became one and the same. From that point, we are now inseparably connected to each other; it is therefore only logical that we move forward together. One of the respected Ngapuhi Kuia, Naida Glavish once said, "yes Maori will move forward, but we will not be doing it on our knees."   

Regulation 27 is the stopgap measure currently in place to allow for the Maori customary principle (tikanga) of manaakitanga, which I will now address.



I think it is critical that you have some understanding of what manaakitanga means - as this is the phenomenon that underpins the Maori drive to continue providing for its exercise. Without this provision, Maori are absolutely marginalised when practicing reciprocal relationships and extending mana enhancement constructs to our manuhiri.  

Manaakitanga has many meanings and I believe the Ngati Raukawa Rangatira, Professor Whatarangi Winiata, who is also President of the Maori Party, offered one of the most profound explanations of manaakitanga I have ever read. Professor Winiata described Manaakitanga in this way: "behavior that acknowledges the mana of others as having equal or greater importance than ones own, through the expression of aroha, hospitality, generosity and mutual respect. Displaying manaakitanga elevated the status of all, building unity through the humility and the act of giving" [1]


Remembering of course what the German missionary had said nearly 200 years ago, "these natives are a peculiar people. They don't measure their wealth by what they own but by what they give away. We must teach them to be mean." This tikanga hasn't changed. Maori still seek after mana enhancement by providing the best kai available to their manuhiri. Kai moana is ranked among the highest mana enhancing mechanisms known to the Maori psyche.   

Ngapuhi's Professor Manuka Henare summarises manaakitanga in this way: "manaaki tanga relates to the finer qualities of people, rather than just to their material possessions. It is the principle of the quality of caring, kindness, hospitality and showing respect for others. To exhibit manaakitanga is to raise ones mana (manaaki) through generosity." [2]  

Another Ngapuhi, Professor Cleve Barlow further explains manaakitanga in this way: " manaaki is derived from the power of the word as in mana-a ki, and means to express love and hospitality toward people. The most important attributes for the hosts are to provide an abundance of food, a place to rest, and to speak nicely to visitors so that peace prevails during the gathering. If these principles are implemented a hui will more likely be regarded as a memorable occasion."[3]

In the case of fisheries, Manaakitanga then is about our ability to feed our manuhiri with the best possible traditional seafood available. An argument based on this principle is very difficult to refute. Regarding Te Tiriti O Waitangi, all Governments are obligated to provide for this basic requirement of our Tikanga - having altered the status of kai moana in this country through various pieces of legislation. Kai moana then, is central to the practice of manaakitanga.

Having shared these definitions of manaakitanga with you, I now wish to reiterate –

"99.999% of the time Ngapuhi fish to feed our babies, we are categorised as recreational fishers"


Recreational Fishing Interests

It is this vitally important "recreational non-commercial fishing interest"  that tangata whenua have that is now under real threat. With less fish in the water, the Maori commercial asset is also seriously threatened as is all fishing interests both commercial and non-commercial.  

When we signed the Treaty of Waitangi Deed of Settlement in 1992, there clearly existed a policy of giving preference to non-commercial fishing interests, although it could be argued that Maori did not know that?  

That is how the Quota Management System was sold to us in 1985 and that is how the Government of the day expressed its policy. In 1989 when the then Minister of Fisheries, Colin Moyle stated " The QMS is now in place for controlling the commercial component of the sustainable catch. Governments position is clear, where a species of fish is not sufficiently abundant to support both commercial and non-commercial fishing, preference will be given to non-commercial fishing"

As far as Ngapuhi are concerned, that preference remains in place to this day. Consequently, there has been no legislation enacted to explicitly extinguish this preference. In fact the 1996 Fisheries Act reinforces this intent with Section 21, that directs the Minister to "allow for non commercial fishing interests" when setting or varying commercial interests. Note, not just setting but also varying.  

As I said, I am unsure whether our negotiators at the time of the Sealords deal actually understood that this preference existed. My hope is, that they didn't because if they did, they were conned and we have ended up with a lemon, if nothing is done to protect both our commercial and non-commercial interests.   

Section 8 clearly states that the fisheries resources must have their potential maintained to meet the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations. It further states that those fisheries resources must be conserved, used, enhanced or developed to enable PEOPLE to provide for their social, economic and cultural well-being. Note the word PEOPLE is used here – and "future generations" of PEOPLE . He aha te mea nui o tenei Ao, he tangata, he tangata, he tangata. Our ancestor Meri Ngaroto said this over 200 years ago [4] .

Therefore this Act is about people. My observation is that the fisheries managers are all about economics and maximum sustainable utilisation. They seem to have forgotten about their obligations to the social and cultural well being of us, the PEOPLE . In my view this intention of the Act has been deliberately misrepresented, the Act is now being exploited for commercial gain, with very little attention being given to the human side of the equation.

How much more of this are we willing to take?


The Ministry of Fisheries Treaty Settlement Obligations:

Currently the Ministry's fisheries settlement obligations are contained in or derived from the following:

  • Maori Fisheries Act 1989 & 2004
  • 1992 Deed of Settlement
    • Commercial and non-commercial customary fishery is legislatively separated with the enactment of the Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act 1992.   However it clearly identified that Maori non-commercial fishing rights continues to hold Treaty obligations for the Crown [5]
  • Fisheries Act 1996
    • Treaty settlement obligations
    • Input and participation provisions in setting sustainability measures
    • Taiapure and customary fishing provisions
      • Fisheries (South Island Customary Fishing) Regulations 1999
      • Fisheries (Kaimoana Customary Fishing) Regulations 1998
    • Temporary closures/Rahui - I will explain a little bit about this tool, rahui, later.
    • Regulation 27 - Fisheries (Amateur Fishing) Regulations 1986 -We are all familiar with this regulation. Basically this is permit writing to allow for seafood gathering for significant occasions and provides the holder with the ability to gather in excess of daily bag limit constraints. I understand that this provision, although presently under the amateur fishing regulations, will be transferred under the new customary regulations currently being considered.

In a nutshell, Maori customary fishing must be allowed for, manaaki manuhiri is paramount. The preference debate must be settled one way or another. Fishing to legislated bottom line sustainable levels must be stringently adhered to. Management of our inshore fishery must surely be a shared responsibility between the Ministry, commercial, non-commercial and customary fishing interest holders. This means equal resourcing to be able to contribute positively to the process.

In seeking to formalise processes to give effect to the Crown's fisheries settlement obligations to Maori, the Ministry has over the last decade provided a piecemeal approach in balancing Maori commercial assets at the expense of Maori non-commercial customary requirements.

In essence the provision of providing 20% of new species entering the QMS can be seen as a perfunctory process that enables the Ministry to clearly identify that it is adhering to its Treaty Settlement obligations.  

However, increasingly the Ministry is facing growing concern from Maori as to the potential impact that entry into the QMS will have on our non-commercial customary management of the fishery. There have also been instances where the Ministry has clearly used its commercial Treaty obligation to offset progressing management provisions to safeguard the non-commercial customary fishery. [6]   Not being able to exclude commercial fishing from within a gazetted Mataitai area for one.  


Where To From Here?

The outcome of the recent hui of non-commercial fishing interests at Whitiora Marae, Te Tii, which many here attended was very clear, we want – "more fish in the water" – not more fish in the kete, not smaller size limits, not bigger nets – no, simply put, we all agreed that our non-commercial fishing interest that shall be allowed for is "more fish in the water".

The tools:


The contemporary concept of a taiapure was introduced through the Maori Fisheries Act 1989 at a time when the Crown was seeking to progress the establishment of Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQ's) via the Quota Management System (QMS). In effect the taiapure provisions can be seen as a halfway or interim measure that sought to placate Maori by providing some form of customary fisheries management whilst recognising the rangatiratanga of iwi or hapu and the rights secured under Article II of Te Tiriti. As a halfway measure the recognition of management is given effect after the following lengthy process:

  • Minister of Fisheries consults with the Minister of Maori Affairs to ascertain whether he/she agrees in principle with the proposal.
  • Public submission period; and
  • Maori Land Court Tribunal to listen to objections and submissions.

On completion of the inquiry the tribunal provides a report and recommendations to the Minister of Fisheries, who in turn consults with the Minister of Maori Affairs prior to either accepting or declining the recommendations made. Should a proposed taiapure be approved then its management resides with the Minister of Fisheries, after consulting the Minister of Maori Affairs, who appoints a management committee from nominations of people who appear to be representative of the local Maori community. A lot of red tape for minimum impact.

Taiapure Parameters

The provisions and outcomes of a taiapure have been described as a half-way measure given that on the one hand they seek to recognise rangatiratanga and the Article ii rights of Maori by identifying traditional fishing grounds that are of special significance to the local iwi and hapu.   Whilst on the other hand that recognition of rangatiratanga, as an overarching management principle, is given to the local community whose composition is determined by the Crown. So in effect any body corporate, public nomination and/or submitters to a taiapure could effectively determine the rangatiratanga and Article ii rights of tangata whenua within a traditional fishing ground of special significance.  

Hence it could be argued that the inability of tangata whenua to provide for their rangatiratanga could be identified as a specific issue, as part of a number of factors, that is reflected by the fact that none of the seven gazetted taiapure [7] have yet provided a management plan to the Minister of Fisheries, let alone regulations to manage aspects of resource management and fishing (including commercial fishing) within those areas.



How Can Taiapure and Mataitai Assist the Non-Commercial Sector?

  • Taiapure are an interim, bureaucratic nightmare for tangata whenua which vests management with the community rather than with tangata whenua.
  • Mataitai should be the preferred option, but there are internal and external issues
    • Internal = internal boundary disputes, lack of capacity and lack of understanding of wider fisheries management.
    • External = issues with MFish doing their job and public perception.

They incorporate tools that can provide for better management, however tangata whenua need to be leading this waka, not relegated to second place by other sectors of the community.

Whether you accept it or not, the truth is Maori hold the key to alternative, effective marine protection. The sooner the NZRFC, the public, the Department of Conservation and the Ministry of Fisheries accept this the sooner we can get on with the program of protecting our marine environment for the benefit of our mokopuna.


  • Maori are required to have gazetted tangata kai tiaki (TKT) and rohe moana before an application can be made to MFish, so there are all the issues surrounding how MFish is dealing with its responsibilities and obligations of moving tangata whenua away from reg 27 and over to the customary fishing regulations.
  • Mataitai are management tools that are exclusive to tangata whenua. The public, commercial and recreational fishers become apprehensive because they feel they could be excluded from these areas, thereby potentially impacting on their commercial and recreational fishery – the issue then becomes one of access.
  • However, there are no provisions in current legislation to support this anxiety. This is perhaps one avenue where all can work collaboratively to exclude commercial fishing within a given inshore fishery area? Ngapuhi are of course willing to share this possibility with other categories of non-commercial interest holders, but the choice lodges with you.
  • MFish is not proactive enough in educating the public, commercial and recreational fishers on the positives of what mataitai could offer (ie) the ability to manage via bylaws and/or regulations. As an example bylaws could be drafted with MFish to propose a minimum size and bag limit for cockles/pipi [8] etc. There could also be regulations made to provide for commercial fishing within mataitai, however it is a long and drawn out bureaucratic process.  

How I see it is that although limited in its ability to assist both recreational and customary fishing interests, the only tool available to us as a combined inshore fisheries management tool is the Mataitai. The first step in setting these in place, resides exclusively with Maori who must first of all identify their rohe moana and kai tiaki that must then be registered with MFish. Kai Tiaki roles are not necessarily exclusive to Maori.  

The consultation process then begins where I see huge opportunity for input by recreational fishers, including the wider community. Once this is complete there is a management plan that would need to be devised which I see as a combined effort with the entire recreational fishing fraternity and the wider interested parties within a community promoting the Mataitai.  

Once the management plan is agreed to, it must then be registered against the Mataitai area.   There is the possibility that commercial fishing may be excluded from certain Mataitai areas if there is enough pressure from contributing sectors of the community.

The possibilities for constraint and bylaw making within gazetted Mataitai areas are unlimited. I do not see any other mechanism within legislation that allows anything like this to be considered.  

It then goes without saying that Maori customary fisheries management tools and the recreational fishing fraternity are inextricably connected and if we don't collectively maximise the opportunities under this legislation, we will continue to be polarise without end. This is our only opportunity to have some degree of control over the management of our inshore fishery.

My challenge to you then is to get alongside Maori and begin to have real discussions. I suggest this be done on a Marae where the atmosphere is relaxed and everyone is given a chance to express their views without fear or ridicule. If you are unsure of where to begin, give me a call and I will ensure you are connected up with your local iwi.

Perhaps the last area I want to touch on is this: 


Representation of Ngapuhi Non-Commercial Fishing Interests

I note with real concern the written comments made by this NZ Recreational Fishing Council in various submissions written by your leadership which state as part of your stakeholder grouping: "We also maintain a close contact with many of the tribes affiliated to Te Tai Tokerau in the north." 


I have checked with the chairpersons of all the other eight iwi back home to find that not one of them have been in discussions or associated with any person from this NZ Recreational Fishing Council regarding non-commercial fishing interests in the last five years.  

Your mandate to write this sort of comment into official documents is non-existent. So you see it is absolutely crucial that you begin developing real relationships with us so we can move forward together. As I said before, Ngapuhi wants to move forward, but we will not be doing so on our knees.

Therefore I put you on notice today that the NZ Recreational Fishing Council does not speak on behalf of the Ngapuhi nation regarding non-commercial fishing interests until such time as there has been real consultation and relationship development between the groups and Ngapuhi choosing to be a member of your council. My good mate Bill Ross told me today that "perception is reality."

Te Ohu Kai Moana are no different, they have been promoting views regarding non-commercial fishing interests, on behalf of Maori that we only read about in magazines or newspapers.   Commission spokesperson, Tania Mc Pherson, made one such comment in an article in the Tangaroa magazine of October 2004 and I quote : "historically, kahawai has been a recreational fish as either bait or sport." She went on, "It has been very difficult to determine how much fish is caught for consumption and how much is caught for sport."


Ngapuhi do not view kahawai in that light at all. We treasure the kahawai as an integral part of our ability to manaaki our manuhiri. I am unsure whether non-Maori recreational fishers have ever thought of kahawai as a recreational fish?

I want to tell you today that those views belong to Te Ohu Kai Moana and in no way represents the view of Ngapuhi. I am personally unaware of any iwi that have relinquished their mana korero to TOKM on customary and non-commercial fishing interests.

In saying that, TOKM are doing a wonderful job for us in our commercial fishing interests. Allocation of our commercial assets is moving closer by the minute, a few more adjustments to our organisations and they will be home.

If Ngapuhi are to become part of this NZRFC - which we should, as should all iwi, hey bro's, you need to get your shit together. I have read some real nasty paperwork doing the rounds on e-mail and I see this council as a dysfunctional family at the moment. I am reminded of what David O McKay said, "no other success can compensate for failure in the home." Let's get this home in order, if not-we don't want a bar of it.

We have much to do together. Welcome to the world of the Maori. I hope we can be of assistance to each other.

Mauri Ora

[1] New Zealand Herald article 31 May 2005. Interview with Ruth Berry - reporter Maori issues
[2] Standards and Foundations of Maori Society, pg: 26
[3] Tikanga Whakaaro; pg;63
[4] Refer to earlier speech notes of morning session- "First things first - a Maori world - view.
[5] Ministry of Fisheries (2004). Setting of Sustainability and Other Management Controls for Stocks to be introduced into the QMS on 1 October 2004. Initial Position Paper. Pg: 9.
[6] See Review of Regulation 27 – Fisheries (Amateur Fishing) Regulations 1986.
[7] East Otago, Whakapuaka (Delaware Bay), Palliser Bay, Porangahau, Maketu, Kawhia Aotea and Waikare Inlet.
[8] As it currently stands there are not any minimum size requirements for the majority of our shellfish. 



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