Will Greens compromise for a Kermadec sanctuary solution?

The Kermadec sanctuary isn’t dead in the Government water, perhaps. Labour and NZ First are working on a way to make it happen, but it will require agreement with the Greens, which will require compromise.

Stuff:  Winston 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.

But there’s renewed hope that the Green Party, a supply and confidence partner for the coalition Government, might get its wish after Peters and Environment Minister David Parker decided to work together to try to find a compromise.

o 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.

Asked how quickly Peters thought he and Parker could convince the Greens to get on board with a mixed model, he said he was optimistic a deal could be reached by the end of the year.

This will pose a challenge for the Green Party, although they have committed to trying to make it happen via their confidence and supply agreement with Labour, which includes:

Use best endeavours and work alongside Māori to establish the Kermadec/ Rangitāhua
Ocean Sanctuary.

Best endeavours should include being prepared to work alongside NZ First and Labour to find a way of making the Kermadec sanctuary happen.

This is a commitment by the whole of the Green Party, as they ratified the confidence and supply agreement.

If they’re not prepared to revive it, National may be prepared to talk to Labour and/or NZ First. Nick Smith has a members’ bill in the ballot aimed at progressing the sanctuary.

Kermadec Sanctuary uncertainty

Plans for a Kermadec Sanctuary may be on hold for this term, although uncertainty remains. Tracey Watkins in Below the Beltway:


Green Party co-leader James Shaw – No matter how much Labour and the Greens spin it, NZ First won the arm wrestling over the Kermadecs marine sanctuary. It won’t be happening during this term of Government.

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

New Zealand’s biggest ocean sanctuary is dead in the water, in a Winston Peters deal that has blindsided the Greens.

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.

But Kermadec Sanctuary still on table, but iwi consultation key – Labour

A deep-water marine sanctuary off the Kermadec Islands could still go ahead, with Labour confirming it would work to establish the world’s largest marine reserve in a way that would satisfy both of its governing partners.

It appears an agreement has been reached between Labour, NZ First and the Greens individually that satisfies Green support for the protection of the Kermadec’s pristine waters, while assuring NZ First that iwi and commercial fishing rights will be taken into account.

Incoming prime minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed the sanctuary played a role in coalition talks, but said, it was not dead in the water.

“Our intention is to work alongside Māori and use our best endeavours to achieve the Kermadec Sanctuary. We will be seeking consensus and agreement with our support parties to find a resolution,” she said.

That could be a difficult ask to achieve in a first term, with views on the sanctuary in stark opposition. The consultation process is likely to be careful and protracted, and legislation for the reserve’s creation could be some time away.

Greens co-leader James Shaw said he was happy with the plan for progression and held “high hopes” it would be before Parliament in the next three years.

“I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, right, because there are a lot of complicated issues to work through. But we’re committed to working through those,” Shaw said.

“High hopes” sounds far from certain.

From the Labour-Green Confidence & Supply Agreement:

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.

“Use best endeavours” sounds vague, especially alongside “look to establish”. These could mean nothing more than ‘we talked about it’.

From the Labour-NZ First Coalition Agreement:

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

A press release from Trans Tasman: Kermadecs: Where Politics, Policies 
And Principles Collide

Environmentalists will be shaking their heads at how the political process has managed to derail the proposed Kermadec Marine Sanctuary.

As reported in Trans-Tasman’s sister publication, the NZ Energy & Environment Business Alert, the sanctuary was to be a major contributor to NZ’s international commitments to protect the marine environment. However, it is now hard to see how those commitments can be reached in the foreseeable future.

…the issue now highlights the sometimes conflicting policy and political priorities of the three different parties forming the new Govt. The Greens did believe the environmental positives of the sanctuary trumped the property rights of quota owners, while NZ First supports the fisheries sector. Labour supports the sanctuary in principle, but its large Maori caucus is mindful of the Treaty issues raised.

The body language of the players now involved is revealing, with Green co-leader James Shaw describing the issue as “complex.”

NZ First’s agreement says the two parties will “work with Maori and other quota holders to resolve outstanding issues in the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill in a way that is satisfactory to both Labour and NZ First.” Neither exude confidence the sanctuary will be created in this Parliament.

In many ways the Kermadec Sanctuary should be easy runs on the board towards NZ’s commitments to marine protection. If it can’t be sorted out, it does not bode well for more sanctuaries in areas with some economic exploitation, such as the subantarctic islands, let alone more heavily fished ocean.

The latest comment from Greens is this from Julie Anne Genter on Thursday: Kermadec Sanctuary likely to go ahead

Green MP Julie Anne Genter expects the Kermadec sanctuary to go ahead under the incoming Government.

Ms Genter said more consultation is key to getting a good deal for everyone.

“You don’t just go out there and bowl people over and put stuff up. That’s not a good way to run a country, you can get good environmental outcomes and make sure everyone is on board.”

That doesn’t sound like it will be a priority. Consultation takes time, even if all the parties are intent on making progress. It doubt that the sanctuary will be a priority.

English admits Kermadec stuff up

Acting Prime Minister Bill English has conceded – sort of – that they way the Government handled to Kermadec sanctuary proposal was deficient. he said “”I think if you did it again you might do it a bit differently”.

RNZ: English admits Kermadec sanctuary could have been handled better

If the government had its time again it would do things differently on the creation of a Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English says.

Mr English said there had not been as much consultation as the Māori fisheries entity Te Ohu Kaimoana wanted to see so the legislative process was put on hold while the government considered ongoing negotiations with the Māori Party.

Though it was a government support party, the Māori Party was advocating strong views, so the negotiations were not the government ‘talking to itself’, he told Morning Report.

“Certainly in the nearer future we’ll be … going back over the ground with the Māori Party to make sure everyone understands each other’s objectives and we get reasonably clear about what the trade-offs [are] here.

“But I think in the long run we haven’t come across anyone who doesn’t want this sanctuary to be in place – it’s really the conditions on which it’s in place.”

As a general principle New Zealand has accepted that in the conservation or preservation of land or sea there was some “trimming of rights”.

“I think there’s a case to argue that there could have been a different track for how the issue was discussed with them but I think we’ve all got to deal with reality.

“If we want conservation of and or sea resource for environmental purposes then we’ve got to balance that against property rights.

Mr English said the circumstances meant the government proceeded a bit differently than it usually did, and that had helped create a situation where it didn’t get agreement of all parties concerned.

“I think if you did it again you might do it a bit differently,” he said.

The disagreements might in principle look difficult to resolve but he was confident there would be a way through.

“In practice … we have found in New Zealand solutions to reasonably challenging issues to do with Māori interests and there’s no reason why we can’t in this case.”

That’s fairly long winded but I think it can be summarised as ‘we stuffed up, we’ll try and get it right this time’.

The government is restarting discussions with the Māori Party to see whether it will support the bill.

I expect the will put more effort into doing it right this time.

Kermadec and coalition repair job

National have cocked up the Kermadec Sanctuary. They seem to have rushed the announcement to give John Key a bit of glory in a speech to the UN. And Nick Smith seems to have a real problem with consulting with Maori.

The ACT party have pulled their support due to lack of due diligence over existing fishing rights as part of a Treaty of Waitangi settlement.

There has been suggestions that the Maori Party could take things further and withdraw from their guaranteed support of the current Government. I think that’s unlikely, stable government has been a major selling point for the Maori Party. But they have leverage.

RNZ political editor Jane Patterson writes in Govt seeks safe harbour over Kermadecs controversy

The row over the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary is not about getting the legislation over the line, it is about National allowing the Māori Party to save face and keep the two parties’ confidence and supply agreement in place.

The last thing National would want is to enter into such a controversy, a year out from a general election with race relations still a delicate balance, and the Māori Party a present and potentially future support partner.

But it only has itself to blame for the lack of true consultation.

Prime Minister John Key announced the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary with great flourish at the United Nations last year.

But a September 2015 Cabinet Paper from the Environment Minister Nick Smith, pays mere lip service to the treaty issues; it describes the fishing quota held by the Crown and TOKM (effectively set at zero percent) as “an administrative quirk”, and states no compensation should be given because with no fishing activity, there is no loss.

The paper goes on to say options would need to be “carefully considered” with TOKM, to ensure there is no “perceived or actual undermining” of the 1992 settlement.

It is obvious from the paper the government had no intention of consulting either TOKM, or the two far north iwi recognised as tangata whenua, before the Prime Minister’s announcement in New York – it also came out of the blue for the Māori Party.

Things have got progressively worse, to the extent that Key put the Sanctuary legislation on hold until the mess is sorted out.

The Māori Party has now been brought in as a broker at the request of the Prime Minister, which in itself shows National recognises the political risk in letting this spiral out of control.

National needs to ensure they have the Maori party as a support option after next year’s election.

The Sanctuary has created an unusual political situation.

The government has the support of the Greens to pass the legislation. Even with that party’s strong position on treaty issues in the last ten years in particular, it is, at heart, an environmental party.

The Greens will vote for the sanctuary even if that causes some tensions with its Māori MPs or supporters.

Labour, as a supporter of the sanctuary, is in a similar position and will manage any internal tensions with its Māori caucus – the last thing it needs in the lead-up to the election is to become embroiled in a racially charged debate and alienate its Māori vote.

So there’s a lot of careful negotiating around these issues required from several parties.

However Nick Smith.

– NZH Park proposal treading water

Smith has been at the centre of the Government mismanagement of housing issues too, and that could really damage National.

When will we see an announcement that he won’t be standing again next year? Will that be too late?