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    South Island Customary Fishing Regulations Update

    Kia ora e te whānau o Ngāti Rārua,

    I am pleased to reach out with an update on the essential endeavours undertaken by our iwi concerning the South Island Customary Fishing Regulations.

    Ngāti Rārua, through our appointed iwi representatives, is currently evaluating our involvement in the South Island Customary Fishing Regulations (SICFR). These regulations establish a legal framework that safeguards our traditional kaimoana gathering territories, enabling the continuous customary harvesting within our marine boundaries.

    This communication is intended to ensure that you, our iwi members, are well-informed about this significant matter and understand our perspective as Ngāti Rārua on joining the SICFR.

    It's crucial to recognize the extensive discussions and negotiations that have been ongoing since the establishment of these regulations in 1999. We owe a deep gratitude to our ancestors and elders who have steered us through these negotiations.


    To provide some context, the SICFR were initiated in 1999 following the Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act of 1992, designed to allow Te Tauihu iwi to manage our customary fishing areas according to our traditions, practices, and values.

    Despite numerous efforts between 2007 and 2020 to resolve these issues, no satisfactory agreement was reached. In 2020, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) facilitated a mediation process, supported by Tā John Clark, to help address overlapping territorial interests and to seek a collective way forward under the SICFR. 

    This process resumed recently after delays caused by COVID.

    • A preliminary Kawenata | Agreement has been reached among ngā iwi o Te Tauihu. This agreement focuses on:
      • Defining a rohe moana for regulatory purposes.
      • Nominating and confirming kaitiaki.
      • Collaboratively addressing challenges and opportunities.
      • Implementing a tikanga-based approach to manage customary fisheries.

    All eight iwi must agree on the terms of the kawenata, and our representatives are supportive, contingent on assurances that our treaty and customary rights remain intact. It is vital to note that these proceedings are distinct from the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) claim processes in which Ngāti Rārua is also actively engaged.

    What's next?

    The mediation is set to conclude by mid-May 2024. If a consensus is not reached by then, the issue may need to be resolved through arbitration.

    Our involvement in the SICFR, through the kawenata, aims to protect our customary rights and establish a tikanga-led kaitiaki framework promoting cooperation among all Te Tauihu iwi, which is crucial for effective management of customary fishing in our region.

    Should we transition to the SICFR, our kaitiaki will guide the necessary procedural adjustments, though no significant changes in how our whānau access customary fishing permits are anticipated.

    We expect to deliver positive news about the outcomes of the mediation soon. 

    No changes to permits

    Meanwhile, our kaitiaki will continue to operate under the current Amateur Fishing Regulations, and our whānau can continue to access their customary fishing rights as usual.

    For customary fishing permits, please contact our kaitiaki at and your inquiry will be directed to our representatives managing this matter.


    Shane Graham, Pouwhakahaere
    Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Rārua

    Richard Liddicoat

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    South Island Customary Fishing Regulations Update