A Northland iwi "disappointed" it was not consulted about the Government's plans to introduce a marine sanctuary around the Kermadec Islands is supporting a Maori Fisheries Trust going to the High Court over the issue.
In September last year the Government announced 620,000 square kilometres of sea surrounding the Kermadec Islands, 1000km northeast of New Zealand, would be turned into a sanctuary protecting habitats of seabirds, whales and dolphins, turtles, fish and other marine life.
Te Ohu Kaimoana Maori Fisheries Trust has now filed proceedings in the High Court in Wellington because the sanctuary would "extinguish all iwi customary and non-commercial fishing rights". The action is supported by Ngatiwai Trust Board chairman Haydn Edmonds who said the Government was demonstrating "complete arrogance" by not consulting with the iwi.
"We are very disappointed that the Government has ignored the Fisheries Settlement that we entered into in good faith with the Government back in the 90s. The settlement in 1992 gave fishing rights to Maori and guaranteed that the Crown would involve Maori in statutory decisions. Well, this is not happening and we have no choice but to support Te Ohu Kaimoana in their decision to take legal action against the Government over this matter."
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The Government said at the time it had consulted with two Far North iwi, Ngati Kuri and Te Aupouri, about the sanctuary. The Ngati Kuri iwi trust board chairman acknowledged it had talked to the Government and supported the idea. The Te Aupouri Runanga CEO said it would support the sanctuary but the first time the iwi heard about plans was during a phone call from Environment Minister Nick Smith the night before the September announcement.
Mr Edmonds said as a minimum Ngatiwai would expect to go through a consultative process. "As the Treaty partner with Government, we would at least expect to be consulted around such major decisions that will ultimately impact on our customary and commercial fishing rights."