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Hui Report July 2005



Whakamaharatanga Marae Hui

By Trish Rea

July 2005


A hui to discuss non-commercial fishing interests and Maori customary management tools

27-29 July 2005

Executive summary Fisheries management
Introduction Regional forums
Fisheries management Marine protected areas
Marine protection Hui Agreement
Kahawai Conclusion  
Managing fisheries above Bmsy    
Conservation Appendices  
Funding Appendix One  
Recreational fishing Appendix Two  
Mataitai and taiapure Appendix Three  


Executive Summary

A successful three day hui was held at Whakamaharatanga Marae, Hokianga in late July to discuss non-commercial fishing interests and Maori customary management tools. Ministry of Fisheries representatives joined the hui on the second day to expand on points raised prior to the hui and participate in discussions with Maori customary and recreational fishing representatives.

Much of the Ministry of Fisheries focus was on the Maori customary regional forums that are being established, two of which will be based in Ngapuhi, one from Te Rarawa (northern Hokianga) north and the other based further south.

Ngapuhi agreed that for the forums to be successful non-commercial fishing interests had to be involved alongside customary interests. A commitment was made to hold the first regional forum meeting within four weeks to settle on the terms of reference, a Memorandum of Understanding and a strategic plan for the forum. The inaugural forum is scheduled for the last week of August.

We agreed that mataitai and taiapure were potentially excellent customary tools for managing sedentary species but were unlikely to have much effect on mobile finfish stocks. It is obvious that more resources are needed to be applied to implement and maintain customary tools.

All participants were invited to have input into a document that would be given to the Minister of Fisheries after the hui. The unanimous outcome was several statements and a series of bullet points on sustainability, Maori customary interests, recreational (non-commercial) fishing interests and marine protection.

Our collective interests lie in everyone disseminating what they had learnt from the hui and the potential benefits of working together to achieve the common goal of   "more fish in the water" "Kia maha atu nga ika i roto te wai"


Wednesday 27th July


After a powhiri from the Hokianga hapu of the Ngapuhi iwi the visiting non-commercial fishing representatives were welcomed onto the Whakamaharatanga Marae. Th e manuhiri (visitors) enjoyed afternoon tea which gave us the opportunity to meet and introduce ourselves to all present.

Ngapuhi Runanga Chairman Sonny Tau opened the hui with an outline of what we had all come to achieve and that everyone had the opportunity to speak freely and share ideas.

A brief background was given of who option4 is, our principles and how option4 formed. Scott Macindoe then introduced the option4 team and a short summary of what our functions are and how we go about achieving those.

"Confiscation in the name of conservation" and marine reserves were mentioned in the context of no-take forever areas and the response was that people needed to hear more about marine reserves in that light as no-take is not where Maori see their aspirations being met.

The relationship between other recreational representatives organisations was explained and it was accepted that option4 is a lobby group seeking to achieve objectives very similar to the aspirations of Maori, the main goal of "more fish in the water".

Fisheries Management

Paul Barnes gave a summary of current fisheries management proposals that are being reviewed and of particular interest to people of the Hokianga. Namely the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) changes for snapper 8 (SNA8), flounder (FLA1), kahawai, grey mullet (GMU1), kingfish (KIN8) and also the proportional allocation system being promoted by the Ministry of Fisheries (MFish) in the latest Initial Position Papers (IPP's) for the above fisheries.

A major flaw was the way in which MFish have worked out who has what share of each fishery. This allocation process was detrimental to the interests of Maori customary and recreational fishers, including Maori recreational fishers.

Snapper 8

A brief history was given of the advent of pair trawling during the 1970's and the impact that had on the snapper 8 (SNA8) west coast North Island stock. The Quota Management System (QMS) was introduced to halt the depletion of our inshore fisheries. At that time some commercial fishers were paid compensation to take less fish out of the water. Quotas were inflated by successful challenges to initial allocations via the Quota Appeals Authority (QAA) and many fisheries were eventually being fished to unsustainable levels again.

A worrying aspect in the latest MFish proposals was the admission by the Ministry that dumping and high grading was more prevalent in SNA8 than in other snapper management areas. This is due to a number of factors, one of which is unbalanced quota portfolios being held by some commercial fishers i.e. they don't have enough quota to cover the fish they actually catch on the west coast. This inevitably leads to fishers having a choice of paying a fine (deemed value) or not landing the fish they have caught (dumping).

From its inception the QMS and subsequent increases by the QAA had failed to constrain commercial fishers to fish at a sustainable level. In contrast, recreational fishers have voluntarily conserved 26.6% of their total catch since 1995 due to management controls. These savings have been made through the reduction in bag limits; increased minimum size limit (MLS) and the halving of longline hook numbers from 50 to 25.

The proportional system being promoted by the Ministry does not take these conservation measures into account but gives acknowledgement in the form of quota to commercial fishers who have continued to take excess fish. Maori customary and recreational fishing interests now catch less and smaller fish in snapper 8 due to the reduced numbers of fish in the water.

Maori Commercial Fishing Interests

There was some interest in what Te Ohu Kaimoana's view on option4 stance is. While we couldn't be specific about their views, TOKM's statement made during the Soundings process, regarding recreational fishing was read out to the hui,

"This means that TAC reductions would be taken firstly from the recreational allowance unless there was a buy back of commercial quota" [1] .

Sonny Tau explained to the hui the extent of Ngapuhi's commercial interest in fisheries. Although more discussion was required with the Ngapuhi runanga, his takiwa had been very clear in regards to their recreational fishing interests. They wanted kaimoana on the table to feed their mokopuna before feeding overseas customers or worse, Australian crayfish (as in the case of kahawai). New Zealanders are missing out on access to fish just to supply the ever-increasing export demand.  

Continued overfishing will ultimately affect all sectors, commercial and non-commercial, economically and socially. The dilemma for Maori with commercial fishing interests is their willingness to conserve but also the need for sustainable funding to address social issues within their communities.

Recreational Fishing Interests

It was unanimously agreed that the term "recreational" when referring to fishing was offensive as it implies we play with our food. Nothing could be further from the truth for Maori recreational fishers attending the hui. After some discussion we agreed that the term non-commercial should represent both Maori customary and recreational fishing interests.


Marine Protection

Maori Customary Management Tools

Many expressed frustration at barriers to implementing Maori customary management tools such as mataitai and taiapure. Te Rawara had been trying to establish a taiapure in their rohe (area) for some time. The most vocal opponents to mataitai applications had been the recreational boating fraternity, many of whom were fishers. It was particularly worrying for Maori that these tools are legitimate but the hurdles to actually implementing them were often set too high to be achievable. One objection to a mataitai application results in the whole process being halted.

Our collective interests lie in our groups uniting and deciding what we want for our local areas. Ministry have failed to deliver adequate management on a local level for many communities. Tangata whenua had been given the tools to manage but not the resources to fully implement and maximise the benefits of using these tools. It was accepted that these tools are not a substitute for good fisheries management or realistic Quota Management Areas (QMAs).

The Ministry of Fisheries need to consult more with Maori and also design a campaign aimed at informing the general public of what these tools are and their potential. It would be surprising if people, once informed, would choose a no-take forever marine reserve over having either a mataitai or taiapure in their area.

Marine Reserves

NZRFC representative Don Glass gave an overview of the legislation that encompasses the marine environment, namely the Marine Reserves Act 1971, the Fisheries Act 1996, the Resource Management Act and the Marine Reserves Amendment Bill currently being considered by parliament.

No-take marine reserves were being imposed on the public and ignore the rights of tangata whenua to manage their rohe (area) in a sustainable manner. The first marine reserve in the Southern Hemisphere was established at Leigh, Cape Rodney. This falls within the rohe of Ngati Wai. Ngati Wai will soon legally challenge the Department of Conservation's actions, this High Court action is supported by the Ngapuhi iwi.



The 2004 kahawai decision by the Minister of Fisheries regarding the introduction of kahawai into the QMS was flawed. The lack of available kahawai was a major problem for many fishing from the shore or small vessels. The example was given that while David Benson-Pope had set the recreational allowance in KAH1 (North Cape to Cape Runaway) at 1865 tonne the reality is the recreational sector cannot catch anywhere near that amount. The truth is closer to an optimistic 300 tonne of harvest. This is a clear indication that the fish are simply not in the water and available to be caught.

The Minister's decision also allows excessive commercial fishing to continue which we object strongly to.

The allowance made for Maori customary interests was also noteworthy. The original paper from the Ministry advised the Minister to "allow for" customary interests at a level of half the recreational harvest, as he is obliged to do according to the statutory obligations set out in MFish documents. When the Final Advice Paper (FAP) was released it was discovered that the Ministry had advised the Minister to reduce that allowance by half again and only allow 25% of the recreational harvest for Maori customary interests.  

Historically kahawai had been fished heavily due to the deployment of purse seine vessels and spotter planes to locate and scoop up entire schools of fish, leaving very little chance for kahawai to remain in the water and breed. The outcome of this pressure was a reduction in biomass to very low levels. The low numbers of kahawai in the water has made it hard for people to go out and catch a reasonable number of kahawai to feed their family. The impact on coastal communities, particularly Maori, has been immense.

Kahawai Legal Challenge

Recreational fishing representatives felt very aggrieved by the Minister's kahawai decision. A great deal of effort had gone into presenting submissions, over many years, to the Ministry and the Minister advising of the impact of excessive commercial fishing of kahawai.

It was agreed by the NZ Big Game Fishing Council (NZBGFC), the NZ Recreational Fishing Council (NZRFC) and option4 that we needed to address these flaws in the decision making process by taking legal action. It would be a very long time before we had an opportunity to challenge so many points of law in one court case. The ultimate objective was to obtain a rapid rebuild of the kahawai fisheries and change the way the Minister of Fisheries makes his decisions in the future.

Flounder and Mullet

Common to both the flounder and grey mullet MFish management proposals were the "paper cuts" being suggested for these fisheries, on the west and east coast of northern New Zealand. Unconstrained commercial harvest and the absence of tools to manage local areas have had a serious impact on Maori customary and recreational fishers for many years. option4 supports any cuts to the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) that will result in the TACC capping the actual commercial catch because that will prevent any escalation of the existing conflict between commercial fishers and local communities dependent on these species. However, the conflict will not be reduced unless the cuts are sufficient to reduce the actual commercial catch from current levels.

Other options for rebuilding the depleted flounder and mullet fisheries in the west coast harbours was an increase in mesh size for commercial fishers and a gradual increase for non-commercial fishers over several years. Shorter soak times for nets in the water are recommended to reduce wastage, particularly in west coast harbours where lice are a major problem.


Whatever the species of importance, we were at the hui due to the ongoing mismanagement of our precious inshore shared fisheries. Hopes were high for the remainder of the hui to achieve the common objective of "more fish in the water".

[1] TOKM Soundings Submission 20 December 2000.

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