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DoC One-sided Process

DoC's One-sided Proposal for Mimiwhangata Marine Park

By Vern Tonks

April 2006


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 wider public.

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 Rodney.

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 reserve.

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 just that.

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 Marine Park.

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 local communities.


Vern Tonks


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.


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