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Mt Maunganui and Tauranga Harbour mataitai

28 August 2008 Media Statement

Mt Maunganui and Tauranga Harbour mataitai

A mataitai reserve over waters surrounding Mt Maunganui and part of Tauranga Harbour in Bay of Plenty is to be established, Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton said today.

Mataitai Reserves are authorised under the Kaimoana Customary Fishing Regulations and recognise traditional Māori fishing grounds that are important for customary food gathering. They also allow the local Tauranga Moana - Ngaiterangi, Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāti Pukenga, to advise the Minister of Fisheries directly on how best to manage fishing in the local area.

Jim Anderton said this mātaitai reserve would allow the Tauranga Moana to more effectively manage customary fishing in important traditional fishing grounds.

"The reserve recognises the strong and enduring connection the hapu has with this area."

Commercial fishing will be banned within the six km2 mātaitai reserve but recreational and customary fishing will still be allowed. Recreational fishing will not require a permit from local Māori.

Jim Anderton said the Mt Maunganui mātaitai reserve would have no effect on the local community's ability to go fishing or gather shellfish under the existing recreational allowances. .However, the current temporary closure to the take of green-lipped mussels between Moturiki and Motuotau Islands would remain in place until it expires on 6 December 2009.

In the future, the Tangata Tiaki/Kaitiaki (guardians) for the mātaitai reserve may recommend bylaws to the Minister of Fisheries that could impose some restrictions within the boundaries of the mātaitai reserve. Any such restrictions would apply equally to everyone fishing within the mātaitai reserve. Customary seafood gathering for Māori cultural purposes would be governed by authorisations issued by appointed guardians (rather than recreational regulations), as is currently the case for customary fishing around many areas of the North Island.

Jim Anderton said that as Minister, he was ultimately responsible for all New Zealand's fisheries, and must carefully consider any fishing restriction recommended by the guardians and must approve them before they come into effect.

"I carefully considered the effect the mātaitai reserve would have on commercial fishers. I recognise that the mātaitai reserve will affect some, but overall, I do not believe those effects will prevent them from taking their catch entitlements."

The mātaitai reserve will come into effect on the 25th September 2008. A map is available for downloading from

The proposal for this mātaitai reserve was extensively consulted on with the local community including two separate calls for written submissions, two public meetings and direct discussions with local Māori.

Māori rights to manage customary seafood gathering (for cultural purposes such as hui and tangi) and traditionally important fishing grounds were recognised under the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Settlement agreed in 1992.
There are currently 9 mātaitai reserves in New Zealand (including this one).
Mātaitai reserves are not marine reserves.
Commercial fishing is banned in mātaitai reserves but recreational fishing is allowed.
Customary fishing is governed and managed by Tangata Kaitiaki/Tiaki or guardians; nominated by local Māori and appointed by the Associate Minister of Fisheries.
There are currently 342 Tangata Kaitiaki/Tiaki throughout New Zealand.
All customary catch must have an authorisation from a Tangata Kaitiaki/Tiaki.

What are mātaitai reserves?
Under the Kaimoana Customary Fishing Regulations Māori may apply to the Minister of Fisheries to establish a mātaitai reserve over any part of their traditional area for the purpose of recognising and providing for customary management practices and food gathering.
A mātaitai reserve has the following effect:
Excludes commercial fishing (including the landing and unloading of commercially caught fish, the use of holding pots to store commercial rock lobsters and the baiting of lines), unless specifically allowed by regulations;
Does not prohibit boats carrying fish and fishing gear onboard from passing through or sheltering in a mātaitai reserve;
Does not exclude recreational fishing;
Does not require recreational fishers to obtain permits or prevent non-Māori from fishing;
Does not prevent access to beaches or rivers not on private land;
Allows for bylaws governing fishing in the reserve to be made by the Minister of Fisheries.
Any bylaws approved apply to all, with only one exception (the taking of seafood to meet the needs of a marae)

Are mātaitai reserves just for Māori?
Controls on recreational fishing within mātaitai reserves must apply equally to all people, with only one exception: if a bylaw prohibits the take of a specific species, the guardians may approve the taking of that species to fulfil the functions of the marae belonging to the tangata whenua of the reserve.
No commercial fishing is allowed within a mātaitai reserve, this includes Māori owned commercial fishing companies. Limited commercial fishing can be reinstated if the guardians request it and the government passes regulations to allow it.

Managing customary catch:
Every fish stock has a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) set by the Minister of Fisheries which ensures that fish stock is fished sustainably or will recover to sustainable levels. Within that TAC, specific and separate allowances are made for commercial catch, recreational catch and customary Māori catch. These allowances and the TAC itself are regularly reviewed.
Tangata Kaitiaki/Tiaki guardians can issue anyone a permit to catch fish in their traditional area (rohe moana) for customary use. They must report these catches to the Ministry of Fisheries so the Minister can allow for customary use when setting next year's catch allowances.


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