The ownership of New Zealand's coastline and the issue of customary title are shaping up as major political issues as the Government prepares to repeal the Foreshore and Seabed Act.

This week, we investigate coastal ownership and examine the implications of scrapping this contentious law. Land Information New Zealand has exclusively released detailed maps and statistics to the Herald about coastal ownership.

Today, in the second of a five-part series, we look at Auckland's beaches and harbours.

A group of Auckland tribes is seeking a co-management deal for the Waitemata and Manukau harbours in upcoming Treaty negotiations.

The group, known as the Tamaki Collective, worked together to complete a settlement deed over Auckland maunga (volcanic cones) this year.

The iwi are again negotiating with the Government as a group because they have overlapping interests in the two harbours.

Ngati Whatua o Orakei heritage manager Ngarimu Blair said the talks gave an opportunity to urban iwi, which were unlikely to pass the tests for gaining customary title to city beaches under the pending foreshore and seabed repeal legislation.

"We're looking more towards working with the collective and other tribes about how we can get a co-management regime across the harbour to practice our customary rights of kaitiakitanga.

"Top of the list is the pollution of the harbour ... the continuing lack of shellfish and the falling stocks of fish for recreational and customary take."

The group consists of Ngai Tai ki Tamaki, Ngati Maru, Ngati Paoa, Ngati Tamatera, Ngati Whanaunga, Ngati Whatua o Orakei Maori Trust board, Te Akitai, Te Kawerau Iwi Tribal Authority, Ngati Tamaoho and Te Runanga o Ngati Whatua. Ngati Te Ata is also likely to join.

Paul Majurey is the collective chairman and represents iwi from the Marutuahu confederation - Ngati Maru, Ngati Paoa, Ngati Tamatera and Ngati Whanaunga.

He said any co-governance or co-management regime should find the best of what's been achieved throughout the rest of the country.

"It is about the Treaty-based right for mana whenua to be involved in deciding what activities are appropriate. So it's not advisory, it's not consultation - it's actual and active decision making."

He envisioned that role extending to having a "real" say on all harbour activities including waste discharge, recreation, shipping and tribal activities.

Negotiations haven't started yet but he believes they will soon.

A Ports of Auckland spokesman said the company was interested in what the concept might mean but had nothing else to add until more was known.

A spokesman for Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson said it was premature to discuss the content of negotiations as they had not begun.

They were deferred while the Government reviewed the foreshore and seabed legislation and to allow the new Super City governance arrangements to arrive.

However, it was important there was an understanding that the foreshore and Treaty settlements were entirely separate issues. One focused on historical wrongs. Customary title under the foreshore repeal process recognised customary rights which have continued since 1840.

Co-management of Auckland's harbours could cover:
* Waste discharge.
* Recreation.
* Shipping.
* Fishing.
* Tribal activities.