Locals have say on proposed Omaui mataitai

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MIXED views were expressed at Tuesday night’s public consultation on the proposed Omaui mataitai reserve.

A mataitai reserve is an identified traditional fishing ground. An application was submitted by Te Runanga o Awarua for one to be put in place around the coastline of Omaui, to meet the existing one around Bluff.

The meeting held at Te Rau Aroha Marae in Bluff consisted of representatives from Fisheries New Zealand and the Awarua Runanga, detailing the specifics of the application and the process involved.

This was followed by a long question and answer session with locals.

Awarua Runanga chairman Dean Whaanga said, “This is a big taki, plan or idea we have
put in front of you to discuss.”

“We hope we can answer all the questions you have for us,” – of which, there were
plenty.

Questions arose about the potential for bylaws to be put in place. While commercial fishing is prohibited in a mataitai reserve, bylaws may be passed which alter recreational fishing rules. For now, those would remain unchanged.

It was asked why a mataitai was required, to which Mr Whaanga said the area the mataitai covered included patches which were under stress – having a mataitai allowed for quicker
regulation setting when needed.

Fisheries New Zealand team manager spatial planning and allocation Blake Abernethy said of the 45 existing mataitai in New Zealand, only fifteen of them have bylaws.

Bylaws must be for sustainable management of fisheries resources and have to beĀ  recommended by Tangata Tiaki and the decision is made by the fisheries minister – currently Stuart Nash.

The next steps are for Fisheries New Zealand to consult those with fishing interests, asses the application, advise the minister and then they are to declare the application’s approval or otherwise.

A guardian of the area, Tangata Tiaki, are then appointed if approved.

Mr Abernethy said mataitai also allowed the opportunity for conversation and the ability for local and active management.

It is also a right, under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, for tangata whenua to be able to apply for mataitai reserves as customary fishing rights.

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