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‘Momentous step’

Crown recognition of customary marine titles 17 years in the making

The Crown’s recognition of 14 customary marine title areas along the East Cape and East Coast in nga rohe moana o nga hapu o Ngati Porou has been hailed a “historic milestone”.

Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Andrew Little said the recognition reflected the determination of nga hapu o Ngati Porou to safeguard their long-standing customary rights and the continued exercise of mana by nga hapu o Ngati Porou in their rohe moana.

Customary marine title recognises customary rights and interests that whanau, hapu or iwi can show they have had in an area of the takutai moana (common marine and coastal area) from 1840, in accordance with strict legal tests.

“I would like to thank nga hapu o Ngati Porou for their commitment through this long journey since reaching agreement with the Crown to recognise their customary rights and interests in the marine and coastal area in 2008,” Mr Little said.

Ngati Porou were the only iwi that reached an agreement with the Crown under the now-repealed Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004. When that Act was reviewed and repealed, the Crown undertook to honour its existing commitments to Ngati Porou. Following the passing of the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act in 2011, the original agreement was updated to reflect features of the new Act, including the new legal test for customary marine title. The agreement was given effect by Nga Rohe Moana o Nga Hapu o Ngati Porou Act 2019.

'Historic milestone for Ngati Porou hapu and whanau'

“The confirmation of customary marine title areas by the Crown in Tairawhiti is an historic milestone for Ngati Porou hapu and whanau,” Nga Rohe Moana o Nga Hapu o Ngati Porou coordinating group chairman Dean Moana said.

“Ngati Porou hapu have long asserted their mana moana over their traditional takutai and kapata kai and have been determined to have their customary rights legally established and recognised.

“Ngati Porou hapu have maintained rangatiratanga over their traditional foreshore and fishing grounds through the use of time-honoured tikanga applicable to each hapu to ensure sustainability and abundance of their takutai for generations to come,” he said.

“Nga hapu o Ngati Porou have established a coordinating group, which assists the six management arrangement trusts representing the hapu by providing collective support in the pursuit of customary marine title areas with the Crown, and the implementation of other mechanisms available to them.

“Acknowledgement must be given to the late Apirana Mahuika and the pakeke who initiated negotiations and who provided the traditional knowledge and korero to support recognition of customary marine title,” Mr Moana said.

“This outcome is another example of the invaluable leadership and contribution that Uncle Api and others of his generation continue to provide to the current and future generations of Ngati Porou.

“The management arrangement trusts also want to acknowledge Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou, which has continued to support the efforts of the coordinating group to obtain recognition of customary marine title on behalf of the relevant hapu.

“The Nga Rohe Moana o Nga Hapu o Ngati Porou Act 2019 sets out the legal rights of holders of customary marine title.

“This includes a permission right in respect of parties seeking a resource consent for activities in customary marine title areas, customary fishing regulations and bylaws, requiring the Gisborne District Council to recognise nga hapu o Ngati Porou in environmental planning, and ownership of newly found taonga tuturu and non-nationalised minerals within customary marine title areas.

Nga hapu o Ngati Porou are committed to seeking further areas of customary marine title

“These areas are the first customary marine titles recognised under the Nga Rohe Moana o Nga Hapu o Ngati Porou Act 2019. Nga hapu o Ngati Porou are committed to seeking further areas of customary marine title via direct engagement with the Crown.”

A statement from Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou Trustee Limited Selwyn Parata congratulated nga hapu o Ngati Porou in achieving this “momentous step”.

“Hapu representatives worked diligently over many years with the support of te runanganui to ratify the deed of agreement, establish their management arrangement trusts, and take the steps needed to obtain recognition of their continuing and unbroken mana over their respective rohe moana.

“This achievement required the dedication and persistence of many people from as far back as 2003,” Mr Parata said.

“Te runanganui acknowledges the pakeke who had the vision and strength to pursue this outcome for the benefit of their hapu. In particular, we acknowledge Uncle Api Mahuika, who initiated discussions between the hapu and the Crown and led the negotiations with a succession of Ministers. He did not do it alone, however, and many other pakeke put their backs to the task as well.

“Too many of them have now passed away. We are thankful for the legacy of their leadership and wisdom. Many others have made significant contributions and must be thanked. Hapu and whanau members attended hui, offered their views, and shaped the discussions on behalf of their respective hapu. Successive boards and staff of te runanganui worked hard to facilitate and support the negotiations; and te runanganui’s solicitors persisted with the technical work required to give effect to the agreements between nga hapu and the Crown.

Te runanganui also acknowledges this Government’s commitment to complete the negotiations that nga hapu o Ngati Porou first entered with the Labour Government of the time, followed by a National-led Government and concluded with this Labour Government.

Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou, acting for and on behalf of nga hapu o Ngati Porou, engaged with successive Ministers — Michael Cullen, Chris Finlayson and Andrew Little — to lay the framework and complete the deed of agreement and Nga Rohe Moana o Nga Hapu o Ngati Porou Act 2019.

Outcome has been 17 years in the making

“This outcome has been 17 years in the making and is testament to the belief and conviction of Ngati Porou hapu leadership in our continuous connection with our takutai moana and the tenacity of TRONPnui as the facilitator of negotiations with the Crown. This is an example of the distinctive and complementary roles that Ngati Porou, acting at hapu and iwi levels, can fulfil.

“Now that customary marine titles have been secured for these hapu, we will support other hapu who wish to ratify the deed of agreement and complete arrangements to reflect the mana motuhake and mana moana o wenei hapu o matou.

“Te runanganui acknowledges that the work is ongoing as there are other areas still to be recognised, and other mechanisms still to be implemented, under the deed of agreement and the legislation. Nga hapu are well represented in this ongoing work by the trustees of their respective management arrangement trusts. Te Runanganui offers them its best wishes in their endeavours to uphold the continuing and unbroken mana of nga hapu o Ngati Porou in nga rohe moana.

“The Deed of Agreement provides a framework for the Crown’s next major engagement with iwi and hapu — Te Mana o Te Wai, freshwater management. Te Runanganui asserts that te mana o te wai rests with the hapu in which the puna wai exists.”

HISTORIC: Those who made the trip to Parliament for the final reading of the Nga Rohe Moana o nga hapu o Ngati Porou bill, in May 2019. The bill became law and gives effect to the agreement between nga hapu o Ngati Porou and the Crown recognising 14 customary marine title areas along the East Coast. Picture by Silent Horizons Ltd.