Mahia Peninsula Grab


Mahia Meeting Advert

This is the extent of the Mahia Peninsula claim under the Marine & Coastal Area Act.

Mahia Peninsula Grab
Click on the picture to see a larger map.


Supporters of the Marine and Coastal Area Act [MCA] will assert there are certain public protections under the Act. Don’t be fooled. That’s a seductive sophistry, exposed in the next few paragraphs.

Before dealing with those devilish details, the paramount thing to appreciate is that the MCA ended public ownership – through the Crown – of the beaches and inner sea waters of NZ. In so doing, the Act allows race-based groups of part-Maori to forbid and / or restrict general NZ public access to parts of the nation’s coastline.

What will be trumpeted by Chris Finlayson and his sycophants is MCA section 26. Rights of access:  “Every individual has, without charge, the right to enter, stay in or on, and leave the common marine and coastal area: to pass and repass in, on, over, and across the common marine and coastal area: to engage in recreational activities in or on the common marine and coastal area.”


What people will not be told is latter parts of that same section which cover Restrictions on Rights of access: “Those rights are subject to any authorised prohibitions or restrictions that are imposed under section 79, being a prohibition or restriction on any or all of the rights in section 26, including: one or more ways of exercising those rights; one or more defined periods, or an indefinite period, or recurring periods of a stated kind; one or more specified areas.”

So what’s section 79 about? Forbidding or restricting public access based on wahi tapu, meaning any place alleged to be sacred to Maori in a traditional, spiritual, religious, ritual, or mythological sense.

That’s right: a law based on myths! Any intentional breaches of a Customary Marine Title carry penalties of up to $600,000! And 90% of any fines like that must be paid to the Customary Marine Title holder – a great tribal policing incentive, if ever there was one! Imagine if 90% of speeding fines went to the police officer.

MCA supporters will offer further soothing platitudes about the burden of proof needed to establish a Customary Marine Title Recognition Order in the NZ High Court. Viz. The applicant part-Maori group needs to prove that it has exclusively used and occupied a foreshore area from 1840 to the present day without substantial interruption. That may prove quite difficult, prompting the question: why bother? Because a back door option leads to Chris Finlayson’s office.

If a Court turns down a Customary Marine Title Order application, the applicant group can seek a Recognition Agreement (for a Customary Marine Title) with the Crown. That would be done through Chris Whinlayson and the MCA does not require him to consult with any other potentially interested parties.

So if it didn’t fly in Court, there’s a sympathetic, if not quisling Minister for an easy get-around-it appeal process. And we know where his sympathies lie. Bad? Right. But it gets even worse . . .

If you thought getting a Resource Consent was bad enough, besides forbidding or restricting public use and access, a Customary Marine Title also creates a secondary bureaucratic layer called a “permission right.” Among other things, it means that a Resource Consent from a Council to build a beach bach is subject to a “permission right,” from a part-Maori tribal group that has any Customary Marine Title for the area.

Beach baches

And, wouldn’t you know it, there is no right of appeal. Viz. “To avoid doubt, a decision of a customary marine title group to give or to decline permission for an activity is not subject to any right of appeal or a right of objection under the Resource Management Act 1991.’

So there you have a snapshot of this disaster. The foregoing enigmatic, tortuous and twisted convolutions of the MCA reflect well the mendacious mind of its prime architect.


(Added 5 February 2015)

Battle Line Drawn Over Mahia Iwi Coast Claim

by Kristine Walsh of the Gisborne Herald • Monday, January 5, 2015

More than 80 bach owners and other parties have signed up to stake their own claim to use of the foreshore and seabed around Mahia Peninsula. The sign-on was carried out at a meeting at Mahia’s Mokotahi Hall on Saturday, where around 120 interested parties gathered to hear about the Rongomaiwahine claim for recognition of a protected customary right and customary marine title.

The area involved covers 100 kilometres around the Mahia Peninsula from near Whareongaonga in the north to the Nuhaka River mouth in the west, running from the high tide mark out 22 kilometres to New Zealand’s territorial limit. To claim customary marine title under the Marine and Coastal Act 2011 — for which iwi trust representative Pauline Tangiora made an application to the High Court in 2013 — Rongomaiwahine will have to prove a longstanding and exclusive history of use and occupation.

However, the stakeholders who signed up on Saturday say they will offer statements to prove that Rongomaiwahine has not had exclusive use and occupation, “thereby showing where and when they, too, had swum, fished, boated and walked the beach without restriction”. In Mahia to address the meeting on Saturday, Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of New Zealand secretary Dr Hugh Barr said that, if successful, the claim could exclude non-iwi from accessing the area, “with fines of up to $5000 for those who go there without permission”.

Dr Barr told the sometimes-rowdy meeting that from 1840 to 2011, New Zealand’s foreshore and seabed was owned by the Crown on behalf of all New Zealanders as a public common, available to everyone. This changed with the 2011 Marine and Coastal Act, which allows coastal tribes to gain customary marine title if they can show that they have exclusively occupied and used the foreshore and seabed since 1840.

The title gives the right of veto, the ability to charge fees for use of current and new slipways, wharves, aquaculture areas, marinas and exclusive mining rights to iron-sand and minerals in the area, he said. Dr Barr told the gathering there was a lot of secrecy surrounding the claim lodged with the High Court. However, Rongomaiwahine legal representative Leo Watson informed Gisbome District Council of the intent to file in August 2013, saying the iwi “looks forward to working constructively with the relevant territorial authorities in relation to this application”.

At a meeting the following month, the council’s environment and policy committee moved to have its lawyer oppose the application, largely on the grounds that customary marine title would allow the iwi to independently veto or permit resource consent applications.

The council was also concerned that there were potential cross-boundary issues with neighbouring iwi Ngai Tamanuhiri, which “may pose issues for the council in relation to its statutory obligations”. Even if the committee did not oppose the application, however, council staff were not confident it would be successful. After discussion with Crown Law Office solicitor Andrew Irwin, the view was that “the information provided in the application and affidavit about the customary activities to be undertaken within the claim area is insufficient”.

Four other claims under the Marine and Coastal Act 2011 are in progress, the largest being Ngati Porou’s claim over about 200 kilometres of the coast north of Gisbome. Ngati Pahauwera is seeking title over 30 kilometres either side of the mouth of the Mohaka River, and there are two separate claims over the Coromandel coast.

Letter to the Editor

Friday, December 13, 2013

Access to New Zealand coasts and waterways belongs to all

As an ordinary member of the public living on the East Coast of the North Island, I am dismayed at the latest claims by Maori tribes for large sections of our coastline.

This present Government has already passed legislation giving Maori ownership to the foreshore and seabed so why these latest claims?

The biggest claim is that of the Ngati Porou for about 200km north of Gisborne and stretches to just west of Lottin Point. The Ngati Pahuwera are claiming rights to around 30km of coastline either side of the Mohaka River. The Rongomaiwahine tribe are also claiming the whole of the Mahia peninsular from the Nuhaka River to just south of Young Nick’s Head. There are also two other claims, one by Ngati Porou Hauraki, which covers a large area of the Coromandel coast including sea and islands. The claim extends from Waikawau Bay, down to and including Kennedy Bay, Cuvier Island and the Mercury Islands. The other piece of the Coromandel on the claims list stretches from Otonga Point down the coast through Mataora Bay to Horokawa, and from there 3.5km out to sea.Why? They already have these rights under government legislation passed in 2011.

This Government promised that the public would have free and unconstricted use of our foreshore and seabed yet these claims strike me as the first leg of privatisation of our former public beaches.

I myself have been subject to abuse and been thrown off former public beaches. Already I have received one complaint of a gate erected across a public road, padlocked and preventing access to a former popular beach, yet local councils are reluctant to enforce the law. Why? Are they scared of these minority groups that hold the country to ransom over that which is legally ours?

These claims are just the tip of the iceberg of what is to come as coastal tribes realise the monetary wealth in our foreshore.

To me this is just pure thieving at the expense of the general public. We all have the right to go swimming, rafting, walking the dog or just fishing on our rivers, lakes, streams and coastlines.

This country is supposed to be made up of peoples of all races and with equal rights to enjoy the freedom of our countryside and coastline. It is called democracy. This country belongs to all of us, not just any select group.

Norrie Day

Letter to the Editor

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Already causing unrest

Re: Battle line drawn over Mahia iwi coast claim, Jan 5

Rongomaiwahine iwi have not had exclusive use of the Mahia Peninsula. They are causing much unrest among landowners who have got on together for generations.

They should not be allowed to have the control to decide what would affect a whole community. They would not be able to stop conflict, which has already started at the boat ramp, with a Maori lady who said she could do what she liked. “We own the water,” she said. The reply to her was, “Well, we own the hose?”

3rd Generation Landowner

Letter to the Editor

The Gisborne Herald • Tuesday, January 20, 2015

No Battle Lines Drawn For Over A Century

Re: Battle line drawn over Mania iwi Coast claim, January 5 story.

I was sad to read this one-sided article. there is not and has not been battle lines drawn — for over a century or more. The claim of a “sometimes rowdy meeting” only occurred when the gentleman chairing it tried to stop our solicitor Leo Watson from speaking. The audience was very vocal about letting him speak.

Hugh Barr’s credibility must be suspect when he uses inflammatory statements such as: “. . . if successful, the claim could exclude non-iwi from accessing the area ‘with fines of up to $5000 for those who go there without permission’.” Further statements are dishonest and if your reporter had spoken to both sides, the article would have been more balanced.

The Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 guarantees free public access, rights of navigation and rights of fishing. Where there is a “customary marine title area” declared, the only restriction on access is in specific wahi tapu sites such as burial grounds or sites of significance — these sites will be identified as part of the evidence to be filed with the court in early 2015. Rongomaiwahine would also have additional rights of consultation in resource consent applications, and to continue their traditional activities.

The application for recognition of customary rights to the foreshore and seabed was filed on behalf of the whanau and hapu of Rongomaiwahine in 2004. It has been moved into the High Court under the Takutai Moana Act and was advertised publicly again in late 2013. The local councils and the Crown are parties to the application. We could do without people such as Mr Barr trying to cause trouble on our peninsula.

Some years ago when amateur fishing people were complaining about commercial fishermen from around the world destroying the m-shore fishing, our people successfully had the Ministry of Fisheries enforce regulations that, except for crayfish, no commercial take would be allowed within a 2km zone around the peninsula. This is still in place today.

Also, if the person who wrote to your paper on January 7 (Already causing unrest) had signed his/her name, maybe we could have a more honest dialogue.

In peace

Pauline Tangiora

Admin comment

the only restriction on access is in specific wahi tapu sites such as burial grounds

Any claim under the Marine & Coastal Area Act relates only to any area from the mean high water mark, out to sea, according to this definition from the Act..

marine and coastal area— (a) means the area that is bounded,— (i) on the landward side, by the line of mean high-water springs

Does anyone know if there are burial grounds at sea, around the Mahia Peninsula? Or is the assertion by Pauline Tangiora about the only restriction being specific to burial grounds, a bare-faced lie, or smelly red herring, at best?

Letter to the Editor

The Gisborne Herald • Thursday, January 29, 2015

Quoting Law Inflammatory?

The outrageous and deceptive letter from Pauline Tangiora cannot go unanswered (20 January, No battle lines drawn for over a century).

She wrote that, “Hugh Barr’s credibility must be suspect when he uses inflammatory statements such as: ‘. . . if successful, the claim could exclude non-iwi from accessing the area with fines of up to $5000 for those who go there without permission’.”

In making this statement at the well-attended meeting of bach owners at Mahia on January 2, at which I was present, Dr Barr was merely quoting section 81 (2) of the Marine and Coastal Area Act. How can it be inflammatory to read out the section of an Act passed by Parliament?

Mrs Tangiora maintains that the Act guarantees free public access to the area of the customary marine title. It does not. Under section 79 (1) (b) the lucky tribe that scores customary marine title can forbid access to any areas that it declares to be wahi tapu. Since the grounds for declaring wahi tapu can be based on a conveniently concocted myth, we can expect to see the best fishing grounds and surf breaks closed off to the public on the grounds of wahi tapu.

In criticising the writer of a letter for using a nom de plume, Mrs Tangiora is being hypocritical — as in her own letter she concealed the fact that she herself is the claimant in this greedy and racist grab for the foreshore and seabed of the whole of the Mahia peninsula.

John McLean

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