Hauraki Gulf Fishery Closures Set to Extend

May 7, 2024
Gulf Users' Group

Fisheries New Zealand, the government organisation that works to ensure fisheries resources are managed to provide the greatest overall benefit to New Zealanders, is seeking public feedback after a request from iwi to extend the temporary closure of three fishery areas in the Hauraki Gulf. The application was submitted by five iwi who have had their Fisheries Act 1996 section 186A temporary closures formally in place for successive years - Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki (10+years), Ngāti Tamaterā (4 years), Ngāti Pāoa (2 years), Ngāti Hei (2 years). Ngāti Rehua Ngātiwai ki Aotea has also requested an extension of a Controlled Area Notice in relation to the exotic Caulerpa seaweed. A Controlled Area Notice under the Biosecurity Act 1993 limits the methods of fishing and prohibits anchoring in the specified area.

The closure request by iwi states that: “All New Zealanders view the notion of gathering kaimoana and fishing as their right. Unfortunately, current pressure on our taonga species is not only unacceptable, but also unsustainable”

If approved, the taking of some shellfish species from specified areas would be prohibited for a further two years, says Emma Taylor, director of fisheries management. (The request from the applicants was for six years, but the legislation only provides for a two-year temporary closure).

NGĀTI PĀOA states in the request application that “The purpose for closure is to replenish these taonga species to ensure the customary practice of gathering kaimoana for whānau (recreational take) and for tribal gatherings such as hui (meetings), tangihanga (funerals), wānanga (workshops) and marae hui.”

According to information received from Fisheries NZ, temporary closures under s186A of the Fisheries Act 1996 do not prohibit properly authorised customary fishing.

Summary of proposed closures:

  • Waiheke Island. Prohibit the taking of mussels, rock lobster, pāua, and beach cast scallops from the foreshore to one nautical mile offshore. (The taking of other scallops is already prohibited)
  • Umupuia Beach (also known as Duder’s Beach). Prohibit the taking of cockles.
  • Te Mātā and Waipatukahu (on the western Coromandel coast). Prohibit the taking of oysters, mussels, pipi, and cockles.

N.B. The Ngāti Hei closure request, (on the Eastern coast of Coromandel), has been withdrawn from this application. Instead, Ngāti Hei have made a separate application. Download a copy of the closure request HERE. Submissions are due on 7 June

Section 186A temporary closures are a way for the government to formally recognise the practice of rāhui. Rāhui are a Maori resource management tool, in this case designed to prohibit the taking of a food resource to allow for its replenishment. Anyone who contravenes a 186A Temporary closure notice is up for a $5,000 fine if an individual, or $100,000 fine if for commercial use.

The temporary closures are part of a long-term strategy

The closure request is part of the Waikato University based Pou Rāhui Research Project. This project is aimed at developing iwi capability for assessing the need for rāhui and managing their implementation. The all-Māori project team aims to create a space for iwi-led, mātauranga and science-based decision-making and management of coastal ecosystems.

Other goals of the Pou Rāhui Project include:

  • Changes to marine legislation to better reflect and include iwi.
  • An action plan to increase political representation and participation [of iwi] to ensure continuity of the key objectives of Pou Rāhui, and the empowerment of iwi is realised.
  • Marine protection and fisheries management policies in the Gulf reflect a true co-designed process with iwi.
  • A model is developed for other whānau, hapū and iwi to follow, and within 10 years restoration strategies and rāhui management practices are rolled out across New Zealand.
  • The next generation of kaitiaki [guardian or trustee] practitioners are trained in localised environmental knowledge, monitoring, education, compliance, and enforcement. This has already begun. For instance, Ngāti Tamaterā has joined MPI as Honorary Fishery Officers to patrol the Hauraki Gulf coastline, giving iwi the ability to educate people about fishing rules and compliance. Ngāti Tamatera have warned: “Our kaitiaki are absolutely frustrated by those who infringe repeatedly and are prepared to get aggressive.”

Read the full closure request by clicking HERE.

If the closure request is approved, the iwi involved are likely to experience an additional benefit, that is, the strengthening of their claims for customary title and customary rights under the Marine and Coastal Area Act. To establish customary marine title, it must be demonstrated that the applicant group holds the specified area in accordance with tikanga. Placing a rāhui over an area is an expression of tikanga.


Submissions can be made by email before by 5pm on 7 June 2024. State in your submission which area or areas you are commenting on.

  1. Email your submission to FMSubmissions@mpi.govt.nz
  2. Or you can post your submission to:
    Spatial Allocations
    Fisheries Management
    Fisheries New Zealand
    PO Box 2526
    Wellington 6140



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