‘We’ve been played’. Locals’ fury as ‘jewel in the crown’ marine reserve stalled

A fourth proposal for greater ocean protection – described as the jewel in the crown of the Hauraki Gulf – has stalled following opposition from iwi groups.

The Hākaimangō-Matiatia marine reserve would cover a 2350ha area northwest of Waiheke Island, and a decision was due last year.

Frustrated locals are now accusing the Department of Conservation (DOC) of “wilfully obstructing the process” because a number of iwi are opposed to the creation of a zone where fishing is banned.

It follows Te Ohu Kaimoana​, the Māori Fisheries Trust, rejecting a government proposal to establish an ocean sanctuary in the Kermadec Islands earlier this month.

Fishing for trouble: Govt sets collision course with industry

The Government has set a collision course with the commercial fishing industry after it rejected a proposal to revive the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary.

Te Ohu Kaimoana (TOKM), the organisation representing iwi fishing interests, unanimously voted against an updated plan that would have opened the door to compensation, and future economic activity in the island chain, which is more than 1000km northeast of mainland New Zealand.

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The move, at a special meeting in Wellington on Tuesday, blind-sided the Government, which had hoped to green light the sanctuary once it had secured agreement from TOKM and mana whenua Ngāti Kuri.

Now ministers are faced with a dilemma. If they drop the plan, it sends a signal that industry can exercise a veto over future marine conservation areas.


A romanticised view of Māori Capitalism is that it operates with cultural values that are more humane and empathetic but ever since the Slave Ships obscenity, that romanticised view has been shattered by the grim truth that Māori Capitalism can be just as exploitative as Pakeha Capitalism. This fight over pine forests is another example of that.

The friction point we are currently seeing is in Fisheries.

After gaining in the ‘Sealord deal’, some Iwi capitalism has become as venal as Pakeha Capitalism. Their perspective is that they don’t care about Global Warming destroying the climate, these are THEIR fishing rights and THEY will do whatever THEY want with it.

Politically Iwi Fishing interests have managed to infiltrate the Green Party at the highest levels to protect their interests.

On the Green Party list right now is a candidate who as the CEO of a Māori Trust Board, went to the Environment Court to stop Te Uri O Hikihiki, a hapu of Ngatiwai, using the RMA to protect life in the sea in their own area (just south of the Bay of Islands) and to allow recovery.

The Trust Board took this position to defend the value of the Board’s fishing quota, which is controlled through their company.

Fortunately the hapu and community groups won the court case. Read about it here.

This ground-breaking work using the RMA to protect marine diversity is exactly what’s needed not just on this coastline but nationally. Given that the ocean is in crisis from overfishing and now climate change, a key question for the Green and Labour Party is how to navigate these interests.

Iwi could rightfully argue, ‘why should we limit our sovereignty over fishing territory that is ours, we are not having the State confiscate this from us again”.

Environmentalists would say, “The planet is melting, everyone is being asked to make changes”.

This issue has cut to the heart of the Māori Party as well with Debbie pushing to ban seabed mining practices that manufactured Iwi support so this is a friction point throughout the Left.

If Labour, the Greens and Māori Party are to be meaningful on the environment, they need to seize any victory in October as a chance to ram through a vast wave of change that includes Iwi interests, because that’s the ultimate kicker. If Labour, Greens and Māori Party are all able to pass a vast tranche of reform that impacts other Industry as heavily as it does Iwi, the argument that everyone is sharing the adaptation costs of climate change can hold.

84% of Māori live in Urban centre’s yet it is the Iwi Leaders brand of capitalism calling the shots. If He Puapua is a genuine attempt at co-governance for the benefit of all Māori, great! But if it’s a trojan horse for Corporate Iwi to promote Māori Capitalism as venal as Pakeha Capitalism, what are we gaining?


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