The Fisheries Act Sec 186a Rahui at Maunganui Bay, Bay of IslandsMaori, as the original indigenous people of New Zealand, have a traditional relationship with the sea encompassing spiritual, cultural and practical management aspects. These traditions have a long history in New Zealand and before that with their Polynesian ancestors. In the 1990's the NZ Government negotiated the 'Sealord Deal' which settled the commercial interest in New Zealand's fisheries with Maori. Following the Sealord deal provision was made for Maori to retain access to certain customary fishing practices in the form of regulations amended to the Fisheries Act 1997.
The rights and obiligations of Maori in the Fisheries Act apply to 'estuarine and littoral coastal' areas where traditional relationships with the sea can be proven. These traditional relationships can include food source, spiritual or cultural basis. These tools are designed to give effect to the obligations stated in the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Claims Settlement Act 1992. (Sealord Deal) to develop policies to help recognise use and management practices of Māori in the exercise of non-commercial fishing rights. There is no mention of ecosystem protection in these fisheries management tools yet some hapū have utilized these tools with a holistic ecosystem approach. A great example is Te Oko O Tangaroa, the Tangaroa Suite of Ngāti Konohi of Whāngarā. In designing their local marine protection Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve (1999) and a mataitai area. See our Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Case Study example.