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The Government is working with iwi groups on a new Hauraki Gulf Marine Protection Bill which will include two new marine protection designations - ‘High Protection Areas’ and ‘Seafloor Protection Areas’. These two designations offer less protection than marine reserves, which are no-take zones under the Marine Reserves Act. ‘High Protection Areas’ allow customary-take rights exclusive to iwi. ‘Seafloor Protection Areas’ ban certain fishing methods such as bottom trawling.
What’s the big deal?
Equality before the law is an important part of our constitutional arrangements. It is guaranteed by articles 2 and 3 of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Article 2: "The Queen of England agrees to protect the chiefs, the subtribes and all the people of New Zealand in the unqualified exercise of their chieftainship over their lands, villages and all their treasures”
Article 3: “For this agreed arrangement therefore concerning the Government of the Queen, the Queen of England will protect all the ordinary people of New Zealand and will give them the same rights and duties of citizenship as the people of England”.
More recently, the United Nations has confirmed equality before the law as a fundamental human right. Therefore, all citizens must be provided with the same rights and responsibilities under our laws. The proposed new bill does not uphold equal rights.
The proposed legislation goes further than the Marine and Coastal Area Act
The Marine and Coastal Area Act (MACAA) provides a mechanism for Māori citizens to apply to the court and/or government for recognition of their continued connection to a particular area of foreshore and seabed. The Act guarantees public access to and use of the common marine and coastal area for activities such as recreational fishing and swimming.
Map of proposed 'High Protection Areas' in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Protection Bill