A Northland iwi culturally opposed to sea burials say they will be seeking a law change to ensure no bodies are buried within their tribal area.

The stance by Anahera Herbert-Graves, Te Runanga a iwi o Ngati Kahu chief executive, comes after iwi "finally" met with the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), which has control over burials more than 12 nautical miles from shore, after voicing their opposition to sea burials within their rohe (area).

"We made progress but it was not satisfactory because we did not meet with the decision makers," she said. "They're not the law-makers, they are the regulators, so we will be talking to our local MP to seek a law change."

There is an authorised burial location which covers 4 nautical miles (about 7km) about 70km northeast of Cape Brett. The area is part of Ngati Kahu's tribal area and last week Ms Herbert-Graves voiced her frustration about the lack of consultation over the site, particularly given the iwi's strong cultural beliefs which do not condone the dead being buried in their "food cupboard".


This week, three representatives from the EPA travelled to Kaitaia to meet with hapu.

"They said they made a mistake and acknowledged they didn't consult with us."

She said the representatives they met with did not have "the teeth to make changes", which was ultimately why they would make contact with Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis or Northland MP Winston Peters to discuss changing the law so the site off Cape Brett was no longer an authorised location for sea burials.

"We had five people from three different hapu attend the meeting and four other hapu who sent their apologies. But all of them were adamant they say no to sea burials."

She said they requested maps of where and when people had been buried off Cape Brett in the past, and because the locations chosen were re-established sites for disposal of things like munitions and ships, iwi requested maps of what had been disposed there.

They also requested the EPA notify them as soon as an application for a sea burial was made, rather than when a certificate was given, and any applicants be made aware of Ngati Kahu's opposition.