Prominent Māori unite against Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary

By Heta Gardiner

There is growing opposition from Māori leaders to the Government's Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary.

A group of high profiler Māori have come together to express their concerns.

The hard word was given to the Government.

Sir Tipene O’Regan said it bluntly, “We'd like to see them back off.”

A distinguished group banded together to oppose making the Kermadecs an ocean sanctuary. 

They claim that progressing this without any consultation with Māori undermines the 1992 Treaty of Waitangi Fishery Settlement.

Sir Tipene says, “The Government in a democracy, isn't above its own laws.”

The body of water at the centre of the dispute is bigger than the whole of New Zealand. But very little fishing is done there.

Despite that, a former National ally has weighed in against them.

Dame Tariana Turia says, “We're all incredibly disappointed. Because all of us believed that we were on a particular pathway. And to now find that, that is not how it is, or how it might be in the future is incredibly concerning.”

She also laid a challenge to her former colleagues of the Māori Party.

“I certainly expect that the Māori Party will give very serious consideration, to what this issue means for the future.”says Turia

The party has taken note.

Co-leader, Marama Fox says, “I absolutely agree with what the Sirs and Dames said”

In a statement to Te Kāea, Minister for the Environment Nick Smith said, "The claim that this new sanctuary undermines the 1992 Treaty of Waitangi fishery settlement is incorrect. The Government always retained the right to create protected areas where fishing would be disallowed".