The vast majority of Kiwis support creating a marine sanctuary in the Kermadec Islands northeast of New Zealand, a new poll indicates.
Results of a Colmar Brunton poll released today by WWF-New Zealand showed 89 per cent of respondents wanted to see a 620,000sq km sanctuary become a reality.
The sanctuary - which would be New Zealand's largest and increase its ocean protection by 3000 per cent - is being proposed through the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill, which passed its first reading unanimously at Parliament in March.
It is now scheduled to be considered by Parliament's Local Government and Environment Committee.
Since the plan was announced by the Government, it has been legally challenged twice - first by Maori Fisheries Trust Te Ohu Kaimoana and later by the fishing industry, which argued the proposal failed to recognise existing fishing rights and had gone ahead without proper consultation.
The industry wanted the Government to recognise that the sanctuary would undermine the integrity of New Zealand's quota management system and the landmark Fisheries Settlement in 1992.
The new poll, conducted between April 27 and May 8, further found 86 per cent of Maori supported the sanctuary being created.
"This polling shows the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders want to see the amazing and ecologically important Kermadec region protected," WWF-New Zealand spokesman Alex Smith said.
The islands and surrounding oceans were one of the most special and pristine marine environments in the world, with globally recognised biodiversity and geodiversity hotspots, he said.
The Government has defended its right to set up the sanctuary, saying that it consulted with the two iwi that had interests in the Kermadecs.
It has also said that the fishing take within the proposed sanctuary's boundaries was only around 20 tonnes a year.