Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Kermadec ocean sanctuary named - but no compensation

The project will cover an area around the Kermadec Islands that is twice the size of New Zealand's land mass and 50 times the size of the country's largest national park. Photo / Getty Images
The project will cover an area around the Kermadec Islands that is twice the size of New Zealand's land mass and 50 times the size of the country's largest national park. Photo / Getty Images

One of the world's largest ocean sanctuaries will be named the Rangitahua Ocean Sanctuary - but no compensation will be paid to Maori or commercial fishing companies.

The project will cover an area around the Kermadec Islands that is twice the size of New Zealand's land mass and 50 times the size of the country's largest national park.

Hailed by environmental groups, there has been controversy over the amount of consultation with Maori before the project was announced by Prime Minister John Key at the United Nations last September.

Ngati Kuri and Te Aupouri, the two northern iwi with connections to the Kermadec Islands, had submitted for the sanctuary to be named after the Maori name for Raoul Island.

That has been partially accepted by Parliament's local government and environment select committee, which has recommended the dual Kermadec/Rangitahua name.

The committee has recommended the law enabling the sanctuary be passed with some amendments, including a requirement for the legislation to be reviewed after 25 years.

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith has welcomed the changes, and said the amendments made it clear there was to be no compensation arising from the sanctuary's creation.

The Maori Fisheries Trust, Te Ohu Kaimoana (TOK), has taken legal action against the sanctuary, saying it undermines the fisheries settlement and therefore all Treaty settlements.

Two fisheries settlements in 1989 and 1992 granted Maori control over one-third of New Zealand's commercial fisheries.

However, the Government has reasoned no compensation need be paid because there is little viable commercial fishing in the area, and it has a right to provide for no-take marine reserves.

"The Government is keen to resolve outstanding iwi concerns through discussion. We acknowledge the strong support for the sanctuary by Ngati Kuri and Te Aupouri but would prefer to have broader support from Maori for this globally significant initiative," Smith said.

Te Aupouri chair Rick Witana last month appeared before the local government and environment select committee and said the iwi's support was conditional on a solution being worked out to the satisfaction of TOK.

"We support the proposal in principle, but it is qualified support. Had Te Aupouri been consulted and engaged with in a meaningful way instead of the cursory treatment we received...then today's presentation could have been different," said Mr Witana.

- NZ Herald

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