Ngāti Porou foreshore and seabed bill passes first reading

Ngāti Porou is a step closer to securing customary title over the iwi's Foreshore and Seabed after the Ngā Rohe Moana o Ngā Hapū o Ngāti Porou Bill passed its first reading in Parliament. Te Aitanga a Mate Hapū representative Agnes Walker says the bill will allow for an equal Crown and hapū partnership over areas under customary title along the East Coast.

A step closer to Crown recognition for Ngāti Porou who say they have never given away their rights to their foreshore and seabed. Walker says it’s been a long journey.

"The issue has been the recognition of how we have traditionally lived our lives and the relationship we have with our takutai moana.

Now the iwi will become the first tribe in New Zealand to secure customary title after a decade when they first sought recognition in 2008 under the Foreshore and Seabed Act. Despite attempts, the bill was delayed after National and the Maori Party repealed the Act in 2011 with the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act.

Instead of "territorial customary rights", Ngāti Porou hapū will be granted customary title over specific areas of coastline along the East Coast and Gisborne. The bill will see the protection of wāhi tapu, customary fishing rights as well as iwi consent required for resource consent applications.

"That's one of the things that's so unique about this whole approach has been a reinforcement from our iwi in terms of Ngāti Porou Rūnanga having had the foresight to facilitate this on our behalf as hapū rather than on our behalf as iwi" says Walker.

Walker believes the bill may also have flow on effects for other concerns in regions including the management of coastal erosion as well as setting a precedent for iwi looking to manage their own foreshore and seabed.

"I think it certainly will act as an impetus because once this is enacted it will lead the way through for other whānau, iwi and hapū that hey there is a place for us in terms of taking a driving lead in managing our takutai moana."