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New Mataitai reserve for Waikawa

11 September 2008

Media Statement

New Mataitai reserve for Waikawa / Tumu Toka in Southland

A new mätaitai reserve over waters within Waikawa Harbour, Porpoise Bay, Curio Bay and the lower section of the Waikawa River is to be established, Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton said today.

Mätaitai reserves are established under the South Island customary fishing regulations and recognise traditional Mäori fishing grounds that are important for customary food gathering. They also allow local Mäori to advise the Fisheries Minister directly on how best to manage fishing in the local area.

Jim Anderton said this mätaitai reserve allows Te Rünanga o Awarua to more effectively manage customary fishing in these important traditional fishing grounds.

“The reserve recognises the strong and enduring connection local Mäori has with this area.”

Commercial fishing will be banned within the 7.02 km2 mätaitai reserve but recreational and customary fishing will still be allowed. Recreational fishing will not require a permit from local Mäori.

Jim Anderton said the Waikawa / Tumu Toka mätaitai reserve would have no effect on the local community’s ability to go fishing or gather shellfish under the existing recreational allowances.

In the future, the Tangata Tiaki/Kaitiaki (guardians) for the mätaitai reserve may recommend bylaws to the Minister of Fisheries that could impose some restrictions within the boundaries of the mätaitai reserve. Any such restrictions would apply equally to everyone fishing within the mätaitai reserve.

Customary seafood gathering for Mäori cultural purposes would be governed by authorisations issued by appointed guardians (rather than recreational regulations), as is currently the case for customary fishing around most of the South 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 have carefully considered the effect the mätaitai reserve would have on commercial fishers. I recognise that the mätaitai reserve will affect some, but overall, I do not believe those effects will prevent them from taking their catch entitlements. Te Rünanga o Awarua amended the boundaries to better accommodate their fishing-related activities in the area.”

The mätaitai reserve will come into effect on the 9th October 2008.

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

This statement is issued by Jim Anderton. MPs' press releases and speeches are part of the normal course of business of elected representatives. We do not believe they are election advertisements within the Electoral Finance Act, and nor was the Act intended to apply to them. However, because some people are confused about the Act, and because the Progressive Party is proud to confirm our responsibility for what we say, this statement is authorised by Phil Clearwater, 5 Sherwood Lane, Christchurch.


Mâori 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 10 mâtaitai reserves in New Zealand (including this one). Mâtaitai reserves are not marine reserves. Commercial fishing is banned in mâtaitai reserves but recreational fishing is allowed. Customary fishing is governed and managed by Tangata Tiaki/Kaitiaki or guardians; nominated by local Mâori and appointed by the Associate Minister of Fisheries. There are currently 342 Tangata Tiaki/Kaitiaki throughout New Zealand. All customary catch must have an authorisation from a Tangata Tiaki/Kaitiaki.

What are mâtaitai reserves?

Under the South Island Customary Fishing Regulations Mâori may apply to the Minister of Fisheries to establish a mâtaitai reserve over any part of their traditional area for the purpose of recognising and providing for customary management practices and food gathering.

A mâtaitai 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 mâtaitai reserve; Does not exclude recreational fishing; Does not require recreational fishers to obtain permits or prevent non-Mâori 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 mâtaitai reserves just for Mâori?

Controls on recreational fishing within mâtaitai 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 Mâori of the reserve. No commercial fishing is allowed within a mâtaitai reserve, this includes Mâori 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 Mâori catch. These allowances and the TAC itself are regularly reviewed. Tangata Tiaki/Kaitiaki 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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