Te Ohu Kaimoana takes legal action against Crown over Kermadec sanctuary

By Heta Gardiner

Te Ohu Kaimoana (TOKM) is taking legal action against the Crown, which is in the process of establishing New Zealand's biggest marine sanctuary around the Kermadec Islands.

Te Ohu Kaimona are nowtaking matters into their own hands.  

Jamie Tuuta says, “They didn't listen to our concerns, so we had no other option than to go to court.”

At the heart of the issue is the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill that prohibits fishing in any capacity in the Kermadecs, an ocean mass wider than all of New Zealand.

TOKM believes the Crown should be honouring the promises of the past.

Tuuta says, “They need to reacquaint themselves with what was agreed on in '92 regarding Māori rights.”

Labour’s Rino Tirikātene agrees, “The government is running roughshod over Māori property rights.”

On top of that is an apparent lack of consultation.

Tuuta says they didn't consult with TOKM before the announcement was made. They just called us the day before the announcement.

Environment Minister Nick Smith says this is about preserving the environment and protecting all sea life with the greatest benefactors being all New Zealanders.

Rino Tirikātene says, “The kaupapa in general yes we all support, but it's a vast area of ocean, and these are treaty property rights.”

The Minister for the Environment wasn't available for comment.