One-sided Proposal for Mimiwhangata Marine Park
This article was originally
published in the April 2006 edition of the 'Pothole'
To the Editor of Pothole,
the people of Whangaruru, Whananaki, surrounding districts and the
The March 2006 edition of
the Pothole reports on the visit arranged by the Department of Conservation
(DoC) for a selected group of our local community to visit DoC's
facilities at the Goat Island Marine Reserve, Okakari Point, Cape
Readers will recall the widely
held concern expressed at the public meetings held by DoC's staff
from June to September 2004 relating to DoC's then marine reserve
proposal for the rohe (area) of Mimiwhangata. Those coastal waters
are, and have been for 30 years, a Marine Park established for the
benefit and enjoyment of all New Zealanders and is not a marine
These properly held concerns
included, as stated by representatives of hapu, iwi and the local
communities alike, at those meetings, glaring omissions and oversights
by DoC in not consulting with all affected hapu and the wider local
community in the preparation of the marine reserve proposal. In
particular the hapu at Te Whanua Whero at Whananaki, whose rohe
(area) includes the coastal waters of Mimiwhangata, was not consulted.
DoC's marine reserve proposal
was in glossy print, contained some nice coloured pictures and stated
that the proposal was endorsed by tangata whenua. However the old
adage that you can't read a book by it's cover turned out to be
The Guardians instructed
an independent marine biologist to review and comment on the scientific
studies referred to and the claims made by DoC in its proposal.
The interim report advised the Guardians that DoC's proposal did
not on any grounds be it scientific, fisheries management or otherwise
stack up or justify a change from the present status of Mimiwhangata
On the broader front, the
jury is out on the effect isolated marine reserves have on rebuilding
coastal fisheries subject to the commercial fishing over a long
period, and there is growing scientific thinking that a principal
threat to our coastal waters, fisheries and environment is from
land based effects like run-off.
What DoC staff don't seem
to tell people they talk to, about DoC's marine reserve proposal,
unless people specifically ask, is that the Government has an obligation
to Maori to observe the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The
Treaty of Waitangi) which include practicing kaitiakitanga (guardianship)
of both sea and land resources to ensure abundance for future generations.
The Fisheries Act and customary
fishing regulations in force at present approved for the practice
by Maori of kaitiakitanga (guardianship) in our coastal waters by
the management fisheries tool of taiapure and/or mataitai which
allow recreational or non-commercial fishing in a way so as to ensure
the continued availability of kai moana (shellfish) and ika (fish)
for future generations.
However, DoC is only responsible
for marine reserves and not fisheries management, again DoC staff
don't highlight that unless asked. Once declared a marine reserve,
not only will there be a confiscation of the right for Maori to
practice kaitiakitanga in the rohe concerned, but there will be
no more gathering of kai moana or catching ika for Maori and non-Maori
alike in that rohe.
It is time, long overdue,
that DoC came clean, put aside its one-sided kaupapa (story) and
explained to all New Zealanders what is really at stake, the effect
on New Zealanders when a section of the coastal waters is confiscated
for a marine reserve, and that other marine protection tools are
available through the practice of kaitiakitanga, that do not exclude
use of the rohe in a caring way.
The Guardians, who are proud
to have Nupere Ngawaka, Kaumatua, of the Te Whanua Whero at Whananaki
as their patron; champion, stand for and support the right of all
New Zealanders to continued use of Mimiwhangata Marine Park achieved
by the practice of kaitiakitanga by tangata whenua supported by
Guardians of Mimiwhangata's
Fisheries and Marine Environment Inc.
Nga Kaitiaki O Nga Ika, Nga
Kaimoana Me Nga Ahuatanga Takiwa o Te Moana o Mimiwhangata.