Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill appears to be still stalled

National MP Nick Smith introduced the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill to Parliament in March 2016.

The sanctuary was a part of both governing agreements between Labour and NZ First and the Green Party, but after the bill was transferred to incoming Labour Minister of the Environment David Parker the bill seems to have stalled. In nearly three years it hasn’t progressed from it’s Second Reading.

Smith recently stated:

“It is embarrassing for the Coalition Government that it has made no progress on the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary after 18 months in Government.  The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill, originally in my name but transferred to David Parker with the change in Government in 2017, has sat on the bottom of Parliament’s Order Paper for 18 months.

Timeline:

8 March 2016 – Bill introduced to Parliament

15 March 2016 – First Reading

22 July 2016 – Select Committee

15 September 2016Govt remains committed to Kermadec sanctuary

The Government is disappointed it has been unable to reach agreement with Maori fisheries trust Te Ohu Kaimoana (TOKM) on the Kermadec/Rangitahua Ocean Sanctuary, despite lengthy negotiations, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“We have tried very hard to find a resolution with TOKM, with 10 meetings involving ministers during the past 10 months. TOKM wanted to be able to maintain the right to fish and the right to exercise that at some time in the future. We wanted to protect the integrity of the sanctuary as a no-take area.

“The Government has amended the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill to provide a dual name, the Kermadec/Rangitahua Ocean Sanctuary Bill, to include Maori in the new Kermadec/Rangitahua Conservation Board, and to provide for their inclusion in the 25-year review. We remain committed to the changes to the proposal despite not being able to secure an agreement with TOKM.”

24 October 2017: Governing Agreements

Labour NZ First Coalition Agreement:

    • Work with Māori and other quota holders to resolve outstanding issues in the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill in a way that is satisfactory to both Labour and New Zealand First.

Labour-Green Confidence and Supply Agreement (24 October 2017):

8. Safeguard the healthy functioning of marine ecosystems and promote abundant fisheries. Use best endeavours and work alongside Māori to establish the Kermadec/ Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary and look to establish a Taranaki blue whale sanctuary.

11 May 2018Winston Peters says the Greens can have a Kermadec Sanctuary – with a catch

Hope for a Kermadec Sanctuary is back on the table and NZ First leader Winston Peters is confident he can do a deal with the Green Party by the end of the year.

The deal would involve a compromise from the Greens though – accepting that the sanctuary won’t be a 100 per cent no-fishing zone.

While the previous government’s bill to establish it passed its first reading unopposed in 2016, iwi bodies and fishing companies subsequently filed legal action against it. NZ First, which has close ties to the fishing industry, raised serious concerns about the legislation.

To keep the fishing industry happy and to ensure iwi with fishing rights under the Treaty of Waitangi are on board, Peters is proposing a mixed model that allows for roughly 95 per cent marine reserve and 5 per cent fishing.

Peters says it’s entirely possible to preserve species while allowing a small percentage of fishing to keep interested parties on side.

He said the Greens would need to decide whether it was more important to have the best part of a sanctuary, or no sanctuary at all.

23 June 2018 – David Parker address to the Forest & Bird Annual Conference

I am also trying to progress the Kermadec Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary, which I have Ministerial responsibility for. I am working to see if I can find a way through that.

24 July 2018Winston Peters confident of Kermadec Marine Sanctuary deal by end of year

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters is confident the deadlock over the Kermadec Marine Sanctuary can be broken by the end of the year.

Environment Minister David Parker and Mr Peters have been working on a compromise for the best part of this year.

Mr Peters insisted an end-of-year deadline was realistic.

“If we keep working on this issue with the level of commitment that has been exhibited thus far then it’s very likely we can have it resolved by the end of 2018.”

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson said there was more than one way to uphold Treaty rights and keep the Kermadec Islands a sanctuary.

“We’re committed to a sanctuary, it’s with our confidence and supply agreement with Labour and that’s what we’re committed to keep working towards. I haven’t actually seen details of exactly what Mr Peters and Mr Parker might be working on.”

Greens seem to have been sidelined.

12 February 2019Prime Minister’s Statement at the Opening of Parliament

Cabinet will also consider options to resolve outstanding issues around marine protection for Rangitahua/the Kermadecs.

While the sanctuary Bill seems to have stalled since 2016, despite the coalition and C&S agreements, it seems to remain stalled.

Nick Smith: Kermadec sanctuary lost at sea

World Oceans Day today highlights the Government’s failure to make any progress on the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary in the past 18 months, Nelson MP Dr Nick Smith says.

There seems to have been little progress since mid-2016, nearly three years ago.

“New Zealand has responsibility for one of the largest areas of ocean in the world, yet less than one per cent is fully protected. The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary would protect an area twice the size of New Zealand’s land mass, 15 per cent of our ocean area and it would benefit hundreds of unique species, including whales, dolphins, turtles, seabirds, fish and corals.

“Nothing has been done by the Government to progress the Sanctuary, despite commitments in the Coalition Agreement with NZ First and the Confidence and Supply Agreement with the Greens to establish the sanctuary.

“National will continue to push for the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary. There is strong public support and between National and the Greens, there is a clear majority of Parliament in favour of its establishment.

“We support progression of the Government Bill now at second reading stage. I also have a Member’s Bill in the Ballot to make progress if necessary. The Government needs to make progress on this Sanctuary a priority.”

So why has this bill stalled?

Is David Parker not doing enough to push it?

Are negotiations with Maori interests still getting nowhere?

Are NZ First holding out for their deal or no deal?

Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary uncertainty

The previous National Government proposed a massive ocean sanctuary in the Kermadec area to the north of New Zealand.

This hit problems largely due to a lack of decent consultation with Maori interests.

The Green Party was caught between it’s enthusiasm for the Kermadec sanctuary – they had been pushing for one – and proper process on Maori issues.

National’s Nick Smith has raised the Kermadec issue again from Opposition – Smith denies his Kermadec bill a coalition wedge:

The National party has put forward its own legislation to create the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, a move which could drive a wedge between parties in the coalition government.

Nelson MP Nick Smith has lodged a member’s bill to ban all mining and fishing over 620,000km/sq around the Kermadec Islands.

The Greens have previously proposed such a sanctuary, but New Zealand First opposes it and any plans have been put on hold until a solution can be found.

Dr Smith said he rejected suggestions he was stirring trouble.

“It’s gotta be bigger than simply party political gains.

“We gave it our best shot in government. To get there you need perseverance, you need to keep trying. This is National continuing to want to do the right thing for improving protection of New Zealand’s ocean area.”

A follow up from RNZ: Green Party ‘yet to consider’ Kermadec bill

The Green Party has cast doubt on suggestions it can be relied on to support National’s bill to create the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary.

Dr Smith said he was confident the proposed law would have the support to pass, with National’s 56 votes and the Green Party’s eight.

“The Greens have indicated to me their support for any bill that would put the sanctuary in place,” he said.

But a Green Party spokesperson said its MPs had yet to consider how they would vote on Dr Smith’s bill.

The spokesperson said the party’s priority was for the government to progress the scheme, as noted in its confidence and supply deal with Labour.

That agreement included a commitment to “use best endeavours and work alongside Māori” to establish the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary.

That could prove difficult though.

New Zealand First has previously objected to the plan, saying it curtailed Māori fishing rights.

And the government has put any legislation on hold until a resolution can be found that is satisfactory to all parties.

The chances of the Member’s Bill being drawn from the ballot are normally slim. There are usually three drawn out of around sixty bills.

But it could be different this term with National dominating Opposition. If they limit the number of bills submitted they will increase the odds of preferred bills being drawn.

Kermadec sanctuary deal smack in Green face

It is being reported that the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, long championed by the Green Party and progressed by the National Government last term, has been put on the back burner in a deal between NZ First and Labour.

James Shaw will probably put on a brave face but this is a smack in Green faces.

Shaw had expressed confidence that Labour would represent Green interests in their negotiations with NZ First.

No party should underestimate Jacinda Ardern’s ability to be ruthless.

Stuff: Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary put on ice by NZ First, catching Greens unaware

The 620,000 sq km Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, announced by John Key at the United Nations in 2015, was hailed around the world and passed its first reading in Parliament unopposed.

But fishing companies and iwi bodies filed legal action opposing it, saying the sanctuary would deny them fishing rights agreed in Treaty settlements.

NZ First, whose senior MPs are close to the fishing industry and whose campaign was partly bankrolled by players in the fishing industry, demanded Labour stop the sanctuary.

And it is understood Jacinda Ardern agreed a Labour-NZ First government would not progress legislation to establish the sanctuary in this three-year Parliamentary term. That will disappoint some of her MPs and supporters, but will win favour among her Maori MPs who argued it undermined iwi commercial fishing rights.

The Kermadec sanctuary was one of the dealbreakers that swung negotiations in Labour’s favour.

Had Greens known about this would they have been so willing to rubber stamp the Labour-NZ First coalition deal without knowing what was traded?

UPDATE: James Shaw responds on Q+A:

JAMES Yes, well, it’s certainly still on the table. Obviously, there’s still a lot of issues to work through. It is a complicated issue, but we are still committed to doing our best effort to making sure that it happens.

GREG This has obviously come out – Winston Peters’ relationship with the fisheries industry – is it in jeopardy? Let’s put it another way.

JAMES Is the relationship with the-?

GREG No, is the sanctuary in jeopardy?

JAMES No, I don’t think so. It is a complicated issue. We absolutely need to work alongside Maori in order to make sure that it happens, but I think that we are all committed to making sure that it does.

That really doesn’t say much apart from expressing a determination to make it happen, eventually.

A Burr under the Green saddle

Lloyd Burr at Newshub echoes and highlights the hypocrisy of the Green Party over their apparently unconditional support of the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary  at the expense of Māori treaty rights, something the Greens normally promote as sacrosanct.

Newshub: Greens have turned back on Treaty

By unconditionally supporting the Kermadec ocean sanctuary proposal, the Green Party is turning its back on the Treaty of Waitangi and its own Te Tiriti policy.

The Greens have always been a strong voice on Treaty issues and like to publicise that fact.

But its current support of the Kermadec legislation, which walks all over Māori rights, is a slap in the face for all its past rhetoric.

In fact, it’s hypocritical.

Burr details a number of issues where the Greens put a lot of importance on Te Tiriti.

  • The water rights debate during the asset sales saga? The Greens said “the Key Government’s rush to sell assets does not justify it ignoring its Treaty obligations”.
  • The  private members bill that would stop Māori land confiscations under the Public Works Act? The bill will “stop any more unfair confiscations of what is left of whenua Māori”.
  • Co-leader Metiria Turei’s Ratana speech a few years ago about how proud she was of the Green Party’s Māori policies? “We in the Green Party deeply believe in the benefits of honouring the Treaty,” she said.
  • The Greens saying it opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership because “the damage it could do to Māori rights and the Māori economy”.

But the Greens, plus organisations closely associated with the Greens like Greenpeace – Māori versus the environmental lobby – see the Kermadec sanctuary as important enough to ignore rights negotiated by Māori under the Treaty.

The saga must be a kick in the guts for Green MP Marama Davidson who has been such a champion on Māori issues.

It must be a hard pill for her to swallow.

Where does co-leader Metiria Turei fit in to this? She makes a big deal about the importance of Māori issues. When it suits her.

Māori versus the environmental lobby

More on the lack of consultation with Māori, who have existing rights granted under a Treaty of Waitangi settlement, over the proposed Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, and the reality that environmental groups are willing to put their own ambitions ahead of Māori rights.

And opposition parties.

Stephanie Rodgers has posted on the environmental lobby at Boots Theory and reposted at The Standard, where there are some interesting comments – The Kermadecs and racist environmentalism.

We’re not even arguing about meaningful consultation around establishing the Kermadec sanctuary, we’re talking about ZERO consultation by white politicians who assumed they knew best. National are literally in coalition with the Māori Party but didn’t even pick up the phone to give them a heads-up…

It was handled poorly by the Government initially, and worse since with Environment Minister Nick Smith making more of a mess of it, to the extent that the legislation has been put on hold until it is sorted out.

But Rodgers in particular blasts environmental groups.

This week has been a revelation in the racist imperialism of mainstream (white) environmental organisations.

Problem 2 is the (very Pākehā) environment lobby’s outrage that anyone might stand in the way of an ocean sanctuary. “Think of the planet!” they cry, which is appallingly arrogant coming from the ethnic group which has done the vast majority of screwing up the planet to start with.

We have to take a hard look at how environmental organisations and Pākehā liberalism exploit indigenous culture. When it suits us, we happily draw on the notion of indigenous people being ~more in touch with the land~ and having a ~spiritual connection to nature~ and painting with all the goddamned colours of the wind. When it helps our agenda, we happily retweet the hashtags opposing oil pipelines and trumpet the importance of honouring the Treaty.

But scratch the surface and all the smug superiority is there. We know better; our thinking is more advanced because we care about ~the whole planet~.

It’s very easy to care about the whole planet when you’re on the team who took it by force.

That’s scathing of the “very Pākehā environment lobby”.  Rodgers doesn’t name names, but there has been angst expressed over ex Green leader and now Greenpeace leader Russel Norman’s performance on The Nation in the weekend, where he appeared to see the Sanctuary as sacrosanct and effectively, to hell with Māori ownership of rights.

A press release on Friday:

Environmental Groups support Government on the Kermadec/Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary

Representatives of leading environmental groups have reaffirmed their strong support for the proposed Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary.

The groups include Greenpeace, WWF, Forest & Bird, the Environmental Defence Society and Ecologic.

Greenpeace Executive Director Dr Russel Norman said that he backed the Government’s determination to create the Sanctuary in spite of strong resistance from the fishing industry.

“The Kermadec proposal will be the largest ever marine protected area in our jurisdiction. It will have immense ecological benefits, allowing marine life in 15% of our Exclusive Economic Zone to prosper without any form of commercial exploitation,” said Dr Norman.

Which means all fishing rights should be removed.

WWF-New Zealand’s Senior Campaigner, Alex Smith, said that fishing industry lobbyists had consistently opposed the creation of no-take marine reserves so the current opposition was not unexpected.

“New Zealand has obligations under international law to protect the marine environment that surrounds us. The Government is entirely within its rights to create marine protected areas like the Kermadec/Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary,” said Mr Smith.

“The Sanctuary is backed by solid science and by 89% of New Zealanders. We urge the fishing industry to break away from its traditional opposition to full marine protection and get behind this initiative.”

That uses the term ‘fishing industry’ and omits the fact that Māori fishing rights are involved.

The Executive Director of Ecologic, long-time environmentalist Guy Salmon, said:

“This is the biggest conservation gain for our oceans in my lifetime and is of international importance,” he said.

“I don’t believe the Sanctuary involves a breach of property rights, and that claim will now be tested in Court.”

That’s a line up of “a very Pākehā environment lobby”.

But it’s not just environmental groups involved. The sanctuary has cross party support, with both Greens and Labour supporting National on it.

From an interview on Waatea News with Te Ohu Kaimoana chair Jamie Tuuta:

“…I think it is important for the Green Party to reflect on their view on the treaty and indigenous rights because it is fair to say if they support the bill in its current form, they are supporting the unilateral extinguishment of Maori rights and interests,” he says.

Normally the Greens put some value on Māori rights and would hate to be seen as “very Pākehā”.

In comments Rodgers again slammed the Government (with some justification)…

There’s nothing “novel” in the government’s approach on this. They announced a major decision affecting a Treaty settlement with zero consultation with the affected parties. Par for the course for European colonisers in New Zealander, really. No one can be surprised that now Māori have a (somewhat) larger voice in the public discourse, they’re raising hell about it.

It is clear racism when Māori are expected to accept “full and final” Treaty settlements, the Government of the day unilaterally changes those settlements, and then all the white folk run around pontificating about “commercial interests” and “gifts to the planet” and “extinction of the moa”.

…but doesn’t mention the Greens. Nor her own Labour Party. Alwyn brought them into the discussion:

  1. Labour take a Maori leaning approach, oppose the sanctuary, and cause a split in the MOU between them and the Green Party. The Green Party can hardly oppose the sanctuary can they?
  2. Labour supports the sanctuary, which was in the policy for the last election, and whip their own Maori MPs into line, thereby showing that Labour don’t really provide any reason for Maori to vote for them.
  3. Alternatively the Labour Party supports the sanctuary and the Maori members of the Labour Party Caucus cross the floor and vote against it.

Then you get the question of why the Maori members are remaining in the Labour Party at all. What do you think the Labour Party are going to do?

It was pointed out that the “Labour position is they support the sanctuary but oppose the process”.  And “that sounds very like their TPP stance and we know how that’s worked for them”. A bob each way politics, opposing the Government but supporting what they want to achieve.

Most people support the Kermadec sanctuary, including the Māori Party (and Māori generally as far as I’m aware).

It’s not just National who should be having a serious look at how they want to progress the sanctuary. Environmental groups and the Greens and Labour may like to have a rethink as well.

Greens, Kermadec sanctuary, Treaty of Waitangi

When the Government announced the Kermadec ocean sanctuary the Greens applauded it.

But the Greens are usually also staunch about Treaty of Waitangi issues, and so far they appear to be virtually silent over the Maori protest about the lack of consultation over the sanctuary and the scrapping of fishing quota given as part of a Treaty agreement.

Greens applaud great start by Government over Kermadecs

The Green Party is excited by the news that the Government is creating an ocean sanctuary at the Kermadecs and hope that more is to come.

“We’re delighted the Government has picked up the Kermadec ocean sanctuary concept that has been in a Green private member’s Bill drafted by Gareth Hughes several years ago,” said Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

“The Green Party has plenty of other great initiatives and ideas and we’re more than happy to work with any party to get the best outcome for New Zealand and its people.

Last month in parliament Sage pushed for more sanctuaries:

Eugenie Sage questions the Minister for the Environment about deep sea marine protection

Eugenie Sage: Given the widespread support for the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, is he really convinced that his new marine protected areas legislation cannot provide a simple process to create new marine protected areas in the exclusive economic zone, which comprises 94 percent of our ocean environment?

Two weeks later…

Eugenie Sage speaks on the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill first reading

The Green Party is very pleased to be supporting the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill, establishing a new marine reserve in New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone around the Kermadec Islands. We have had a member’s bill in the ballot, prepared by Gareth Hughes, for some time, to establish a marine protected area at the Kermadecs. We congratulated the Government when it announced its intention to create this ocean sanctuary at the United Nations in the run-up to an international oceans conference last year.

We are very pleased to support the bill.

Sage went on to praise the bill and the sanctuary, but did raise a concern about the lack of “engagement with Māori interests prior to it being announced”.

There was one concern: the departmental disclosure statement did note that because of the secrecy around the project, there was not engagement with Māori interests prior to it being announced.

That was disappointing, but we note that there has been extensive consultation with Ngāti Kurī and Te Aupōuri subsequently.

Te Ohu Kaimoana has raised a concern about the potential impact on fishing rights allocated to iwi under the fisheries settlement, but I would note that there has been no fishing undertaken in the Kermadec region using the settlement quota in the past 10 years, so Te Ohu Kaimoana seems concerned about the potential fishing rights rather than the actual ones—and the biodiversity values far outweigh the fishing values.

So Sage expressed ‘disappointment’ that there was no Māori consultation but doesn’t refer to any Treaty of Waitangi commitments, instead saying simply that that “the biodiversity values far outweigh the fishing values”.

What about the importance of a fishery quota agreement made with the Government?

Yesterday six prominent Maori leaders slammed the decision to create the sanctuary, saying they weren’t consulted and it takes fishery quotas off them that they were given in a Treaty of Waitangi agreement with the Government.

See Kermadec sanctuary and Treaty of Waitangi

So far Greens appear to have commented very little on this.I can’t see anything on their website in News or on their blog. Nothing on their Facebook page.

Leader Metiria Turei has a ‘Protect our deep oceans’ image prominent on her Facebook page but no mention of the Maori protest there.

Eugenie Sage did link to Māori leaders fight Kermadec sanctuary plans on her Facebook page yesterday, but added these comments:

Currently at Kermadec science symposium where speakers are outlining the many wonders of the Kermadecs. We need to keep parts of our oceans for nature, free from fishing, mining and drilling and other exploitation. Not sure how TOKM thinks that will be achieved without the law changes. Is TOKM saying that quota rights are absolute ?

TOKM refers to the Māori fisheries trust Te Ohu Kaimoana which filed a case against the sanctuary in the High Court in Wellington last month.

There has been a big public discussion about the value of protecting the last six years and as Harry Burchardt of Ngati Kuri said this morning, the establishment of a Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary and protection of Rangitahua, the stopping place is a decision equivalent to making Aotearoa nuclear free.

Greens are usually staunch about doing things properly when there’s any Treaty of Waitangi issue.

Except when there’s something that’s more important to them, like a marine sanctuary?