Govt affirms mana moana of Ngāti Porou hapū

By Talisa Kupenga

Landmark legislation has been passed with the third reading of the Nga Rohe Moana o Nga Hapu o Ngati Porou Bill at parliament Thursday.

It's unique in that it gives Ngati Porou hapū (subtribes) decision making and governance powers over their marine and coastal areas and sets a process where they can have their customary rights recognised.

Te Rūnanganui o Ngāti Porou Chairman Selwyn Parata says "our hapū have authority over their foreshore and seabed. That was what the late Api Mahuika and others had worked so passionately towards for more than sixteen years."

Te Aitanga a Mate spokesperson Agnes Walker says "it's the first time anywhere that we've had an opportunity to have a legal relationship with the crown as hapū.
“Even under the Treaty Settlements that relationship goes back to the iwi [but] with this Act we now have that obligation and responsibility to look after our own interests on the takutai moana [foreshore and seabed]."

The bill, a first under the Marine and Coastal Area Act, gives Ngāti Porou some veto rights for uses within its coastal areas and the ability to propose bylaws to restrict or ban fishing for either sustainability or cultural reasons.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says "[The commercial fishing industry] has been on my case … and other extractive industries, they've shown me how concerned they are but I'd have more confidence than their exaggerated concerns reflect."

Ngāti Porou Seafoods Chief Executive Mark Ngata says "commercial fisheries has always been the teina (subordinate) of our fisheries, customary fisheries is the tuakana (superior) so we're going to help our tuakana reach their aspirations as well."

The legislation also allows general conservation powers and rights to minerals including sand, iron and gravel.

TKKM o Kawakawa mai Tawhiti student Rongoitekai Paenoa Pahuru-Huriwai says "it gives our generation and those to come more capacity tobuild outcomes while looking after our food cupboards and our coastal areas."

More than forty Ngāti Porou subtribes were in support of the legislation.