7 Hauraki Gulf Hijack

Dear Citizen,

I have been prompted to write to alert you to a three-pronged push currently underway to introduce undemocratic co-governance arrangements for the Hauraki Gulf.

In a democratic political system, representatives are elected by the people, using a process based on the idea that everyone should have equal rights. However, both the Hauraki Gulf Forum Governance Review and Recommendations Report, and the Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari Hauraki Gulf Marine Spatial Plan contain proposals that would significantly increase the influence that iwi groups would have over the Gulf and its catchment areas, and by doing so drastically reduce the power of local government to act in the best interests of the wider community. Read for yourself the Hauraki Gulf Forum Governance Review and Recommendations Report here.

Treaty of Waitangi settlements

Our democracy, and therefore our rights, are also being sacrificed for the sake of Treaty settlements. The ‘Sea Change’ Plan reveals that:

“The Plan was written when regional Treaty claims negotiations were taking place for settlements for at least 19 iwi and hapū. These settlements will significantly change the cultural, economic and political landscape in Hauraki and Tāmaki Makaurau. Greater iwi involvement in environmental management will include iwi-council/Crown management of Hauraki and Coromandel Peninsula waterways, and discussions are planned for the co-governance and management of Hauraki and Auckland harbours. The results of those settlements will be important for the make-up of the governing body of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, and for implementing the plan”.

Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari Hauraki Gulf Marine Spatial Plan

The Hauraki Gulf Marine Spatial Plan was commissioned by the Hauraki Gulf Forum to address the underlying causes of habitat degradation, poor water quality and fisheries depletion of the Hauraki Gulf. However it appears tangata whenua representatives on the Marine Spatial Plan Project Steering Group have used this as an opportunity to seek more power for iwi over the Hauraki Gulf, by not only changing the makeup of the Hauraki Gulf Forum, but also proposing the introduction of 50/50 co-management of localised areas, called ‘Ahu-Moana’ marine zones. These zones would cover every inch of the coastline of the Hauraki Gulf and its islands, extending from mean high water mark out 1km. You can see a map of the Ahu Moana area here (The orientation of the map is not a mistake – this reflects the Maori world view).

‘Sea Change’ contains a number of alarming proposals. For instance, it recommends that the ‘Ahu Moana’ committees would eventually have the power to prohibit recreational and commercial fishing in ‘their’ zone, wholly or partially over any area, and over any or all fish species, on the basis of 'cultural values' (i.e. no need for scientific evidence).

For a better understanding of the concerns, we urge you to read the Plan here.

Of further interest are the extensive number of cultural landscapes, sites, areas and activities of significance to mana whenua shown on page 31 of the plan - see here. This begs the question – is there an intention that these areas be scheduled as ‘sites of significance to mana whenua’, with affected landowners being obligated to consult with iwi/s for any development?

What next for 'Sea Change'?

At their most recent meeting, on 20 February, the Hauraki Gulf Forum agreed to have a substantive discussion at the Forum’s meeting in May. The meeting requested that the Forum’s Executive Officer work collaboratively with the Technical Officers Group to provide information/advice prior to its May meeting on options to promote and implement the vision and pathways identified in Sea Change plan. See the meeting minutes here.

The Hauraki Gulf Forum Technical Officers Group comprises local body officers, plus currently, 5 representatives of tangata whenua, see here.

Please consider passing on this information to your friends, family, associates, and other contacts.

Kind regards,

Lee Short
Democracy Action