Hapu which have made claims on Northland coastline popular for tourism say they do not want to stop operations - they want consultation.

About 108 applications, for direct Crown engagement, which include parts of the marine and coastal area in Northland have been made under the Marine and Coastal Areas (Takutai Moana) Act.

Jamie Hakaraia Hurikino is hapu representative for Ngati Kuta and Patukeha ki Te Rawhiti's application which covers an area including Motu Kokako, also known as the Hole in the Rock, in the Bay of Islands.

The site has been the centre of a dispute over whether or not commercial boats passing through the hole should pay a fee, in the same way tourism companies pay a concession to cross private or conservation land. Mr Hurikino said the hole is a wahi tapu (a sacred place).

Advertisement

Mr Hurikino said hapu did not want to stop companies going through the hole, they just wanted consultation and recognition of the wahi tapu.

"[We want them to] understand that our wahi tapu is a big reason why commercial ventures are so successful. I think at the foundation we want meaningful engagement with tourism operators at the moment it's been 'we'll come and talk to you when the law changes' kind of thing."

Fullers GreatSights Bay of Islands takes tourists through the Hole in the Rock and general manager Charles Parker said the company remains open to and would welcome further opportunities for discussion with Ngati Kuta and Patukeha.

''At this stage it's too early for us to comment on how this process might unfold and any potential impacts on commercial operations,'' Mr Parker said.

The Act provides for customary rights to be recognised through Customary Marine Title or Protected Customary Rights. This gives groups the ability, with some exceptions, to say yes or no to activities that need resource consents or permits.

It also allows groups the right to protect wahi tapu through prohibitions or exclusion of access.

Protected customary rights can be granted for a customary activity, like collecting hangi stones or launching waka, and lets applicant groups carry out the activity without needing consent.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said applications have no impact on existing tourism activities or public access, including fishing and existing permits, and consents and concessions are unaffected by applications under the Act.

Advertisement

However, applications for certain new consents, permits or concessions are required to seek the views of relevant applicants before applying for their consent.

Keatley Hopkins, a trustee of the Ngunguru Marae trust which made an application on behalf of Ngati Takapari, said the area of the group's claim extends from Middle Gable in Tutukaka right down to Horahora.

"One of the big motivations for us was the Crown would automatically assume that customary title or rights were extinguished if you did not apply by the deadline."

"I think also Tutukaka is quite a big area where there is a lot of development happening. There's a lot of talk about developing tourism infrastructure and activities out there so it was a continuing concern about the kind of impact that would have in our rohe moana."

Northland tourism leader Jeroen Jongejans, owner of Dive Tutukaka, wrote to the Government asking for clarification about what impact applications would have on marine reserves.

Existing marine reserves are unaffected by the Act and Mr Jongejans was happy with that and said he had no other concerns about the applications.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said the sequence and timing for determination of Crown engagement applications is being developed.