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Reserve Consultation Apr 2005

Marine Reserve Public Consultation

Questions in the House

12 April 2005


Marine Reserves - Public Consultation

Comment from Larry Baldock

United Future MP.

"After having the Minister (of Conservation) disappear out of the House when I have asked questions on the Aotea Great Barrier Island marine reserve three times in the last few months I am beginning to think he is avoiding me. United Future will continue to keep up the pressure until DOC admits they have no mandate to continue with the marine reserve proposals.

Having secured the delay of the Marine Reserves Bill until after the election it is vital that those concerned with this adhoc DoC driven approach to so-called marine protection make their voices heard in the months ahead."

Parliamentary Question Time

11. LARRY BALDOCK (United Future) to the Minister of Conservation: Is he satisfied that the Department of Conservation engages in adequate public consultation when considering new marine reserve proposals; if so, why?

Hon RICK BARKER (Minister for Courts), on behalf of the Minister of Conservation: Yes, because independent audits of the last two formal marine reserve applications received by the Minister have confirmed that thorough consultation was undertaken. The significant number of submissions received on marine reserve applications also suggest that the department is doing a good job in ensuring that the community is aware of the proposals and their implications.

Larry Baldock: What is the current status of the promised independent review, which is being carried out by Mr Simon Berry, of the Department of Conservation's consultation processes with regard to the Aotea Marine Reserve, and when will the Minister publish findings of that inquiry?

Hon RICK BARKER: The review is almost complete. I do not have a precise date with me, but I would certainly like to forward that to the member after I take some advice on it.

Dave Hereora: What improvements have been sought by marine interest groups to the way that marine reserve proposals have been identified and advanced?

Hon RICK BARKER: All the sectors say that they want a strategic approach to the establishment of marine reserves and other marine protected areas. Recreational fishers, commercial fishers, conservation groups, and iwi all want a structured regional approach and to be involved in the early stages of planning. The Ministry of Fisheries and the Department of Conservation have just finished consultation on a marine protected area policy and an implementation plan that will do exactly that.

Larry Baldock: How does the Minister reconcile the statement by Mr Warwick Murray, the Department of Conservation's communications relationship manager, in a letter to Scott McIndoe concerning Mr Berry's findings: "Mr Berry's report states that the Director-General of Conservation has substantially complied with the procedural requirements of the Act and fairly and appropriately carried out his responsibilities.", with the statements made by Mr Merv McGee, chairperson of the Ngati Rehua trust board, who told me today that the whole process of consultation was a farce and that the Department of Conservation had no regard for tangata whenua rights; and who did Mr Berry consult when he was carrying out that independent review?

Hon RICK BARKER: I cannot confirm the comments made to that member today, but I can confirm that the Department of Conservation takes tangata whenua rights seriously and does seriously consult tangata whenua.

Larry Baldock: Can the Minister confirm, after his visit to Great Barrier Island last Friday, that residents and Ngati Rehua, hapu of Ngati Wai, remain opposed to the Aotea Marine Reserve, and that they still consider they will suffer undue adverse effects, and that just one of those objections, according to the Minister's reply to my questions in the House several weeks ago, is sufficient for the marine reserve proposal to stop in its tracks; and, therefore, when will the Minister call a halt to that proposal and abandon it?

Hon RICK BARKER: That marine reserve application is going through a process, and yes, it is correct that if it can be demonstrated that there is undue effect on any one of a number of categories, then the proposal will not proceed. This process is still under way, and we should await the outcome.

Larry Baldock: What consultation has the Minister's department engaged in with the Catlins community regarding the proposed marine reserve at Nugget Point, and will he consider the local community's proposal for a marine management model similar to the Fiordland Marine Guardians model as an alternative to a full marine reserve; if not, why not, or will they experience the same appalling treatment from his department as the residents of Great Barrier Island have experienced?

Hon RICK BARKER: The department and the Minister will take seriously all submissions from the Nugget Point people.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Can the Minister confirm that if Labour and the Greens are working together after the election, the new Marine Reserves Bill will be passed with appropriate amendments based on the submissions we have heard, ending 3 years of stalling on this issue and enabling marine reserves to proceed with better provisions for consultation than exist under the present outdated Act?

Hon RICK BARKER: It is the Government's intention to pursue passing that bill through Parliament and, of course, as always we welcome the support of the Greens for our legislation.

Larry Baldock: Does the Minister consider that the previous question asked by Jeanette Fitzsimons is one of the best reasons New Zealanders should vote for United Future, so that there will not be that outcome she predicted?

Madam SPEAKER: The Minister has no responsibility for that.



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