Four Maori leaders have come out swinging against claims on social media that the rahui that has covered the Ahipara coast from Te Kohanga (Shipwreck Bay) to Tauroa (Reef Point) since 2009 is unworkable.
Te Runanga o Te Rarawa chairman Haami Piripi, supported by Roma Marae chairman John Paitai, Ahipara Kaitiaki chairman Patau Tepania and Wainui Marae chairman Danny Graham said the rahui was achieving very encouraging results.
The most recent monitoring had revealed "explosive growth" in paua, in terms of both size and numbers.
"This is good news for the three marae with kaitiaki responsibilities, and for the kaitiaki themselves, who have committed to the use of tikanga Maori practices," Mr Piripi said.
"It has become an indicator for the future management of the takutaimoana by iwi and hapu communities, and an example of what can be achieved.
"However, our success has been marred by recent Facebook postings denouncing the rahui as unworkable and unsuitable. We want to re-assure people that the rahui is very much alive and well, and that the tapu associated with it is intact and working.
"We have personally seen the evidence for this assurance, and are regular enough visitors to Otia to know the truth about how well the rahui is operating."
Those who did not like the rahui model, and would prefer Pakeha law to have pre-eminence, were looking back, not ahead, to old ideas, notions and practices.
"We can't afford to waste time entertaining fools who join from the sideline, ill-prepared to make constructive comments," he added.
"It is the old adage that if one has nothing nice to say about something, then let those who do get on with it."
Mr Piripi said the rahui, a pre-European concept derived from an understanding that everything between the sky and earth was inter-connected, had been put in place in response to the "raping and pillaging of our marine environment."
It had been clear that neither European law nor any individual could protect Tangaroa, so the iwi, local marae and the community of Ahipara joined to mandate the implementation of a traditional rahui, which for the first time in more than a century invoked the laying of a tapu as a form of environmental protection.