The Government's Hauraki Gulf 'protection' plan

September 1, 2023
Gulf Users' Group

Early last month the Government introduced legislation it hopes will to contribute to the restoration of the health of the Hauraki Gulf.  The purpose of the Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill is to establish 19 new marine protected areas within the Gulf, and acknowledge customary rights within seafloor protection areas and high protection areas. The Bill had its First Reading during the last week of parliament sitting under this Government, when it was referred to the Environment Committee.

The Bill establishes the following marine protected areas in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park

  • 2 marine reserves:
  • 5 seafloor protection areas:
  • 12 high protection areas. 

The two new marine reserves are being established as extensions to the existing Cape Rodney–Okakari Point Marine Reserve and the Whanganui A Hei (Cathedral Cove) Marine Reserve. Marine reserves are strictly “no take”, including marine life, shells, rocks, and driftwood. 

High Protection Areas 

The purpose of the High Protection Areas, (HPAs) is to protect, restore, and enhance biodiversity. A range of activities will be prohibited, including commercial and recreational fishing, large-scale removal of non-living materials such as sand, stone, and driftwood, and the dumping or discharge of waste, sewage, or litter that will have a more than minor adverse impact on aquatic life.

Iwi-only fishing allowed in HPAs 

However, whānau, hapū, and iwi will still be able to exercise non-commercial food gathering (customary fishing) in HPAs, provided the customary fishing aligns with the biodiversity objectives for a site, and is authorised through the existing customary fisheries framework under the Fisheries Act 1996.

The biodiversity objectives for HPAs will be agreed with Māori and provided for through regulations.

Otherwise, the nature of these ‘customary practices’ is undefined in the bill. Apparently, this will depend on how iwi authorities choose to exercise them. 

Notably, the 12 High Protection Areas include the following areas:

  • The Ōtata / Noises Island
  • An area west and south of Tiritiri Matangi 
  • Mokohīnau Islands
  • North-western side of Motutapu
  • An area surrounding Pakatoa and Shag Island
  • A substantial area on the northern side of Little Barrier Island

Seafloor Protection Areas 

Activities prohibited in Seafloor Protection Areas (SPAs) include trawling that contacts the seabed, dredging, and Danish seining fishing methods. Dumping, depositing, or discharging waste or other matter that is likely to have an adverse effect on aquatic life is prohibited. Sand extraction, mining, and aquaculture are also prohibited. There will be additional prohibitions on set netting, potting, and bottom longlining in the SPA around the Mokohīnau Islands. Fishing methods and activities that are not harmful to seafloor habitats, such as spear fishing and line fishing, are permitted in the SPAs.

You can see maps of these and the other areas in the Bill. Please click HERE 

Noticeably absent from the legislation are any key performance indicators. How are we to know when/if we achieve a ‘revitalised Hauraki Gulf’ if we do not have quantifiable measurements to aim for?


Revitalising the Gulf’ – our Friends of the Hauraki Gulf submission' by Auckland Councillor Mike Lee

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