Taranaki iwi Ngāruahine seek recognition over coastline

By Taroi Black

Taranaki iwi are among those claiming customary rights under the Marine and Coastal Area Act. However, one iwi has made an application to the High Court with the aim of gaining recognition over their sea.

Ngāruahine is seeking recognition over their coastline. 

Chairman Te Korowai o Ngāruahine Trust, Will Edwards says, "We submitted our application for recognition, not ownership, so the Crown and the law acknowledges that Ngāruahine does have customary rights."

Over 150 claims have been made under the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act by iwi, hapū and whānau across NZ. 

Edwards says, "We are continuing discussions with our local hapū, the descendants of Ngāruahine and Te Korowai o Ngaruahine Trust on how we can move forward as a iwi for the sake of the iwi." 

Ngāruahine iwi is the first tribe in the Taranaki region to lodge an application to the High Court. Their aim is to secure their customary rights, which is part of their 25-year plan. 

Edwards says, "Absolutely, our foreshore and seabed are part of the tribe's plan."

Te Āti Awa is among Taranaki iwi who are claiming for customary rights to their coastlines, which includes gas exploration.

Edwards says, "We have an interest in that activity, so we need to consult with that industry. Also since other iwi of Taranaki have settled claims, ideas how to do that are continuing, so that it is included in our foreshore and seabed aspirations and how we as Maori protect our moana."

The application deadline under the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act closed last month.