Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Bill Introduced

  • Nick Smith

Conservation Minister Nick Smith today welcomed the introduction of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Bill to Parliament.

"The Hauraki Gulf is a national treasure well deserving of the special status proposed in this Bill. The islands, beaches and coastal waters contain some of New Zealand's most precious conservation icons and is New Zealand's most important marine playground. The Gulf also has a rich heritage and is of huge cultural significance to Maori. The challenge of the new millennium will be in protecting these values in the face of increasing pressures from population growth, an expanding port and international events like the America's Cup."

"The philosophy driving this Bill is integration. Nature does not conveniently divide the Hauraki Gulf into separate boxes of fisheries, marine mammals, island habitats, catchment run-off and water quality. Each of the key decision makers are narrowly focused on their own responsibilities when a more holistic and ecosystem approach is needed."

The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Bill provides clear principles decision makers in fisheries, conservation and resource management. It also establishes the Hauraki Gulf Forum as a formal body to ensure better co-ordination of Councils, central government agencies and tangata whenua with responsibilities and interests in the Hauraki Gulf. The Bill also establishes the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park to include over a million hectares of ocean and 33,000 hectares of island and coastal reserves in and adjacent to the Gulf.

"A marine park is quite unlike a national park or marine reserve. It is more in the concept of multi-use parks around the world that allow commercial activity like shipping and fishing while ensuring that conservation and recreational values are maintained. No private or local authority land can be included in the Park without the consent of the land owner."

"The Bill ensures that Treaty Claims in the Hauraki Gulf are not compromised and provides for the formal recognition of tangata whenua interests in the Gulf. Representation for Maori is also provided for on the Forum."

Dr Smith said that 18 months of intense discussion and consultation with the 2 Regional Councils, 9 territorial authorities, many iwi, Conservation Boards, Ports of Auckland and other Hauraki interests had been exhausting.

"I am very appreciative of the energy and effort from Councils, iwi and others that has enabled us to get to this milestone. Now is the time to make progress and secure the future of the Hauraki Gulf for the enjoyment of generations to come."