Marine Reserves (Waiho Nga Kai a Tangaroa)

These are special or representative areas of the coastal and marine environment in which marine life and natural features are legally protected.

As with a national park on land, you are encouraged to visit the reserve so that you can observe and enjoy the scenery and variety of life that flourishes in a protected environment. They are open to swim, snorkel, scuba drive, do scientific research and are non-harvest areas.

As at May 2005 there were 25 marine reserves in NZ (10 of these in Fiordland). The nearest to the Far North are Poor Knights (Aorangi and Tawhiti Rahi) Islands marine reserve situated 25 km offshore and Leigh/ Okakari Point marine reserve near Warkworth.

Mataitai Reserves

These are a Fisheries Act tool created in 1996 to protect traditional fishing grounds and significant areas special to tangata whenua. It does not exclude recreational fishing by maori or non-maori but does exclude commercial fishing.

A maori committee or kaitiaki can be empowered to make bylaws over the area if they consider it necessary for sustainable management eg to control the levels of taking fish, aquatic life or seaweed in the area. These bylaws apply equally to everyone, with the exception that if the reserve is closed for general harvesting, the management committee may still allow kaimoana to be taken for hui on the marae of the tangata whenua.

As at November 2005 there were 6 Mataitai reserves in NZ and 9 applications in process.


This is a local management tool established over any area of estuarine or coastal waters that has customarily been of special significance to an iwi or hapu as a source of food or for spiritual or cultural reasons.

They are managed by a committee selected by the iwi or hapu, and often include representatives from local commercial and recreational fishers. The management committee can provide advice and recommendations to manage the fisheries in the Taiapure area.

Commercial fishing may be allowed

As at November 2005 there were 8 Taiapure in NZ and 2 applications in process. The nearest Taiapure is in Bay of Islands.

Taiapure are basically a management advisory group and they can cover relatively large areas, they have no powers to act only to give advice. Mataitai are often described by Min Fish as being aimed at small discrete managed areas, where specific fisheries management rules are established, such as management of mussel rocks.

The Tangaroa Suite

This is a concept from Whangara, north of Gisborne incorporating a marine reserve as the core within a Maataitai reserve surrounded by a Taiapure.

Ngati Konohi and the Dept of Conservation have had a joint partnership managing Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve since 1999. There is provision for a review of the marine reserve status after 25 years, giving opportunity for the future generation to decide. At 2450 hectares it is NZs largest marine reserve and includes about 5 km of coastline.

Ngati Konohi aim to surround the marine reserve with Maataitai and Taiapure reserves. The Maataitai will be able to restrict unsustainable fishing near the marine reserve and the Taiapure will extend out to the 200 mile limit, meaning the local community has full input into the management decisions for their marine area.

Rahui or section 186 Temporary Closures under the Fisheries Act 1996

These can temporarily close areas to fishing or certain fishing methods. They have the specific purpose to provide for the use and management practices of tangata whenua in the exercise of their customary rights and they are designed to respond to localised depletion of fisheries resources.They have a maximum duration of 2 years with potential for 2 year renewals. As at November 2005 there were a total of seven Section 186 closures in NZ.

Marine Parks

These offer non-statutary management systems that can utilise a full range of management tools available under various legislation. They have the potential to request special enabling legislature to support them. As at May 2005 there were 3 Marine Parks in NZ; Mimiwhangata Marine Park north of Whangarei, Hauraki Gulf Marine Park and Tawharanui Marine Park near Warkworth.

A Marine Protected Areas Network

This is a network being developed at present by government, to protect biodiversity and habitats. They intend to involve marine users, tangata whenua and communities in the process. A range of management tools will be used including marine reserves, Fisheries Act tools and tools under the Resource Management Act.

Fisheries Plans

This is a tool provided under the Fisheries Act 1996. They could be based on single fish stock or a number of fish stocks, or a number of different but connected fisheries. These plans can be led by Ministry of Fisheries or by tangata whenua together with other stakeholders.