Kermadec sanctuary and Treaty of Waitangi

Prominent Maori leaders have criticised the creation of the Kermadec maritime sanctuary, saying that it was done without consultation and without proper regard to the Treaty of Waitangi.

This will reignite tensions between Maori and National, but also puts the Greens in a potentially tricky situation. They are usually staunch about any Treaty of Waitangi issues but welcomed the Kermadec sanctuary announcement.

NZ Herald reports: Maori blast sanctuary move

Six leaders of Maoridom – including three knights and two dames – have slammed the Government’s decision to create a huge ocean sanctuary around the Kermadec Islands without consultation on the Treaty settlement it affects.

Sir Tipene O’Regan was joined yesterday by Dame Tariana Turia, Sir Mark Solomon, Sir Toby Curtis, Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi and former Labour minister Koro Wetere (via video) at the headquarters of Te Ohu Kai Moana Trust, which is legally challenging the Government’s lack of consultation.

The Government made the decision in secret so that Prime Minister John Key could announce it at the United Nations in September last year.

Sir Tipene said the Government had been pressured by international lobby groups to set up the sanctuary.

“We’d like to see them … stand by the agreements which a previous National Government solemnly entered into.”

Agreements on fishery quotas given to Maori as party of a Treaty of Waitangi deal.

The deal gave the Maori Fisheries Commission 20 per cent of all quota and $150 million to be used to acquire part of Sealord.

The Government has introduced a bill that would extinguish the 840 million shares for quota stock in the Kermadec fishery management area without consultation or compensation – on the basis that Maori have not used their fishing rights there.

Sir Tipene and Te Ohu said whether or not they used them was not a reason to extinguish the right.

I think that’s a fair point.

If someone buys a piece of land and does nothing with it for a few years the Government has no right to just take it over and use it for something else, no matter how laudable the use.

“This unilateral action [is a] straight-out traducing of the indigenous right to development … we have been cut off before it can take place.”

Environment Minister Nick Smith said the group was “overstating the impacts in respect of fishery and Treaty settlement obligations and under-estimating the opportunities for economic and scientific gain”.

This may be an unpopular Maori protest. I think most people will see the  sanctuary as generally a good thing, and I suspect the Kermadec area was not a significant indigenous area, but I think there should have been appropriate consultation.

There is no argument that the Government’s proposed enlargement of the Kermadec Sanctuary cuts across aspects of the 1992 Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries settlement and does so without consultation. The only question is if it is justified.

Conservation zealots believe conservation trumps everything.

Others who have taken a close interest in Treaty settlements in the past 25 years are variously appalled, and gutted the Government could have made such a decision without reference to the affected party.

It looks like the sanctuary is a good idea but done badly by Nick Smith and the Government.

It could be that Maori end up supporting the sanctuary, but Smith seems to have stuffed up – again – and some serious repairing of damage needs to be done and seen to be done to sort this out.

Sanctuaries are important, but so is sticking to agreements made by Governments.

Leave a comment


  1. Gezza

     /  12th April 2016

    I agree. Treaty Settlements are contracts I would’ve thought. Contracts work both ways. I’m often not happy when complaints are made that Treaty Settlements need to be revisited by Maori when I thought everybody had negotiated the fairest, best deal reasonable in all the circumstances. Consultation seems to be an express or implied requirement and it should’ve taken place. Eliminating catch opportunities applies to Pakeha fishers as well though so it’s not like Maori have taken a hit and no-one else.

  2. I note that Smith has said that the two iwi with historical ties to the Kermadecs were consulted prior to thee announcement. I have no reason to not believe him, he is after all
    still a Minister of the Crown.

    • Gezza

       /  12th April 2016

      Do you have a link BJ? I thought the complaint was that consultation was made just before the announcement was made and that meant inadequate time for any discussion.

      • Gezza

         /  12th April 2016

        Oh sorry. It’s in Pete’s link. Apologies. Still think that’s the nub of it.

      • Gezza

         /  12th April 2016

        Actually it’s not mentioned in that Herald article. Just says Nick said they are “overstating the impacts in respect of fishery and Treaty settlement obligations and under-estimating the opportunities for economic and scientific gain”.

      • I read it in the Dominion Post on Monday. I agree that the initial complaint was that the iwi were not informed until the day before. How much consultation is enough and do the iwi and the Government use the same interpretation of “consultation”? We have to recognise that Governments’ govern, and not all change has to accompanied by payment of compensation.

        • Gezza

           /  12th April 2016

          It’s a contract. I’m ok with the government saying no to compensation because everybody loses and everybody gains and seeing that argued out. It sounds like a breach of good faith to me, that’s all.

  3. kiwi dave

     /  12th April 2016

    maori bleating over kermadecs is pure hypocracy , three knights and two dames not withstanding. Land, fish, ocean or freshwater – it’s all about the money (and ego)

    • Gezza

       /  12th April 2016

      Maybe it is hypocrisy. I don’t think compensation should be paid because everybody loses and everybody gains in this situation. But if the Settlement required consultation should it just be ignored?

    • Gezza

       /  13th April 2016

      I didn’t realise the sanctuary is 15% of the fishery. No wonder the government didn’t want to talk to Maori about it.

  4. Pickled Possum

     /  12th April 2016

    When is the Treaty going to be honoured ???
    Will it be in my Life time ???
    Are there enough men and woman of Integrity in Nz to help guide us All to this???
    Or are we just going to sit back and whinge and moan throw sticks and stones till another 100 years have passed with no conclusion – happy ending in sight??? just division of peoples.

    • When is the Treaty going to be honoured ???

      When are the rights of non-signatories going to be honoured?

      Without an understanding what sovereignty is the meaning of the Treaty can easily be misconstrued.

      • Pickled Possum

         /  13th April 2016

        Lunchtime water and sandwich and korero
        @UT What non-signatories are you meaning?
        The Maori people who didn’t sign or the people of today, or the people of the Crown who were there in 1840, that didn’t sign?

        Sovereignty is a word that has this meaning = “Sovereignty is understood in jurisprudence as the full right and power of a governing body to govern itself without any interference from outside sources or bodies. In political theory, sovereignty is a substantive term designating supreme authority over some polity.”
        Definition = supreme power or authority

        Maori wanted supreme power and authority over their lands customs etc and of course the further we get from 1840 the more the Maori people are diluted/breeding/blood? with other peoples and it just makes it very difficult if not impossible to apply that in today’s world.

        The education of Maori/NZ people was/has been a very difficult process with negative views on both sides, I have hope that we as a country will be marching towards a way where I can be seen as not a ratbag but a member of a community that has 2 cultures in a happy marriage.
        If this is naive of me then that’s OK with me.

        And when I die and when I’m gone
        There’ll be one child born
        In this world to carry on
        to carry on.
        Blood Sweat & Tears

        • PP, your statement “The education of Maori/NZ people was/has been a very difficult process with negative views on both sides”. Is actually when you think about it an example of the problems you talk about. You classify the sides as Maori and NZers. This in my view (Hei iwi tatoa) is wrong and should have been stated as “The education of Maori and Non-Maori New Zealanders people etc” You may consider this is pedantic but all Maori are New Zealanders but not all New Zealanders are Maori. None of us has a monopoly on the truth, whatever that means. How do people qualify as “tangata whenua” ? I was born and bred here and have a non-Maori Whakapapa going back to India and the United Kingdom which dates prior to the occupation by Maori of New Zealand in saay 950 AD. Who were tangata whenua before Kupe arrived? Who were the Tree People of Horawhenua, what about Maoriora in the Chathams and the South Island. I sure as hell regard myself as a native son of New Zealand and identify myself as a non-Maori New Zealander who enjoys the fruit of the connection by some kind of osmosis with my Maori relatives, friends and acquantances> I acknoledge that because of my schooling and interaction with Maori, it has made me a better person and helped me interact with multiple Asian and Pacific Cultures. My eldest grandson is part-Asian and he is the one of two males who will carry forward my genealogy after my two sons meet the Creator. Being Maori is important and you should hold on to that as Sir Apirana Ngata said. Remember the injunction on the carved Kauri Board at Kaitaia College? Or has it gone elsewhere?
          WE are one people.

        • @PP

          By non-signatories I mean Tuhoi, other non-signatory tribes, and settlers who were not subject to colonial rule.

          “Sovereignty is understood in jurisprudence as the full right and power of a governing body to govern itself without any interference from outside sources or bodies.”

          This is a restatement of the doctrine of sovereign immunity, i.e. “the king can do no wrong”. IOW a true sovereign is immune from a lawsuit because in the eyes of the law the sovereign is perfect.

          “Maori wanted supreme power and authority over their lands customs etc”

          That’s not a realistic ambition when you are dependent on the Crown for protection. The protected always has lower status than the protector.

  5. The real problem is that there are two histories in conflict here. Many decisions have been made in the past including willing sellers agreeing to sell land to willing buyers. There is also actual proof of judicial decisions being made in NZ which at the time were viewed as just but now viewed through the coloured glass of changed values and new interpretations of fairness and what is right. The end result is a festering mess that is impossible to sort out without creating winners and losers. Inevitably, the losers will remain disaffected and so it goes on. Is there any way to a full and final solution to this clear conundrum? It will only be via honest people making decisions based on principles of recognising substantial wrongs backed by believable evidence and providing adequate compensation for proven hardship caused by the act or omission in dispute. We talk about the wisdom of Solomon in these cases. Can both sides look past their views of history, and relate to the present and future? Not yet is my current view, unfortunately.


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