22.1 Introduction

22.1.1 Waikato-Tainui fisheries are a taonga. They are treated as such because they sustain the Waikato-Tainui way of life, both physically and spiritually. In the physical sense, the fisheries provided a cornerstone food source for the tribe. It was plentiful during all seasons of the year, it was reliable, and it was respected. It sustained the tribe during the winter months, and provided energy during battle. The significance of the fishery resource to Waikato-Tainui cannot be underestimated.

22.1.2 Waikato-Tainui fisheries also play a spiritual role as told through many stories and waiata. The taonga species are recognised as the most common form of taniwha (spiritual beings). The roles of taniwha are to heed warnings to the tribe, provide protection and guidance to safety through times of trouble. The taniwha that guided the Tainui Waka to Aotearoa have been described as fish species. The leader, Mawake-nui-o-rangi, has been described as a shoal of fish; the one who beat down the waves was Paneiraira, who was recognised as a freckle headed whale, while the mischief makers were Ihe and Mango-hiku-roa, possibly thresher sharks or dolphins.

22.1.3 Other taniwha described as fish include tuna (eels), wheke (octopus) and koura (freshwater crayfish). Some taniwha are mammals rather than fish and have a closer affinity with humans who are also mammals. This clearly demonstrates the significant influence fisheries have on the wellbeing of Waikato-Tainui. The objectives, policies, and methods provided in this section recognise the physical and spiritual importance of fisheries to Waikato-Tainui, and aim to strengthen and restore the relationship of Waikato-Tainui with its fisheries and resources.

22.1.4 The Waikato River is the Awa Tupuna (ancestral river) and Waikato-Tainui view the river as an indivisible entity so any harm to the mauri (life force) of the river is considered to be harmful to the mauri of the Waikato-Tainui people. The degradation of the river and subsequent decline of taonga fish and shellfish species has caused immense harm to the Waikato River and therefore to Waikato-Tainui.

22.1.5 Taonga fish species of the Waikato-Tainui rohe include, but are not limited to, tuna (Shortfinned and Longfinned eel), whitebait species (iinanga, kooaro, banded kookopu, giant kookopu, and shortjaw kookopu), smelt, piiharau (lamprey eels), kanae (mullet – yellow-eyed and grey), paatiki (flounder – yellow-bellied), kahawai, trevally and tamure (snapper). Taonga shellfish and koura include: koura, kaaeo, kaakahi (freshwater mussels), tio (oyster), pipi, kina and kuutai (green-lipped mussel).

22.1.6 Restoration of taonga fish and shellfish species is a critical component of Te Ture Whaimana o te Awa o Waikato (The Vision and Strategy for the Waikato River), particularly as it relates to achieving a healthy abundant life for the Waikato River.

22.1.7 For Waikato-Tainui the restoration of taonga fish and shellfish species and the ability to provide these taonga as food in reasonable amounts to manuwhiri (visitors) is a critical marker of the tribe’s mana and status. It also confirms a tribe’s proficiency in manaaki taangata or the practice of generosity and reciprocity. The abundance of food and other resources that were traditionally available to Waikato-Tainui within its tribal rohe (boundaries) are well known by other tribes throughout the motu (country).

22.1.8 Protection and enhancement of Waikato-Tainui fisheries resources will not be possible without significant and longterm investment in appropriate restoration projects and strategies. Successful strategies will also require participation, cooperation and collaboration from many different parties and agencies from both local and central government, industry, scientific experts, environmental care groups, recreation sports interests, other suitable community groups, and, of course, Waikato-Tainui.

Special Permits

22.1.9 Special permits can be issued under section 97 of the Fisheries Act 1996 to authorise taking aquatic life for the purposes of:

(a) Education;

(b) Investigative research;

(c) Management or eradication of unwanted aquatic life;

(d) Gear trials;

(e) Use of alternative fishing methods by disabled person for sport or recreation; or

(f) Any other purpose approved by the Minister of Fisheries.

22.1.10 A special permit can override any section of the Fisheries Act, provided the authorised activities are consistent with the purpose and principles of the Act. For example, a special permit could allow fishing in an area that is closed under regulations, the taking of undersize fish, or the use of fishing gear that is not permitted under the Act. However, a special permit should not be used as an alternative way to gain commercial access to fish, seaweed or aquatic life. Special permits are individually assessed by Ministry of Primary Industries’ staff. More information can be found at http://www.fish.govt.nz/en-nz/Commercial/Management+Controls/Special+Permits/default.htm.

22.1.11 Waikato-Tainui seek to be involved in the special permit process.

Mana whakahaere over fisheries

22.1.12 The mana whakahaere of Waikato-Tainui over fisheries is reflected through:

(a) Exercising customary fishing rights to taonga species;

(b) Access to, and use of, traditional and existing fisheries sites;

(c) Decision making in the management of fisheries and significant sites;

(d) Making decisions in the management of factors that contribute to the wellbeing of taonga species and significant sites;

(e) Waikato-Tainui involvement in issuing special permits.

(f) The existence of documents of agreement between mana moana and mana awa tribes and other parties (e.g. Customary Fisheries Management Plans, Memoranda of Understanding, Gazette Notices, relationship agreements, and future treaty settlements in the marine environment and other freshwater catchments; and

(g) The use and management of fisheries through customary practices from Waikato-Tainui tikanga and kawa.

22.2 Issues

Holistic and coordinated approach

22.2.1 Use of Waikato-Tainui fisheries needs to take account of the effects of such use on the entire fisheries and coastal ecosystem, and associated, inter-dependent ecosystems and communities. Without a holistic and coordinated approach to fisheries and fisheries management it is not going to be possible to sustain and enhance the fisheries. Where possible, Waikato-Tainui needs to be involved in this holistic and coordinated approach, including the issuing of special permits.

Information and expertise sharing

22.2.2 Information and expertise sharing is critical for the survival and enhancement of Waikato-Tainui fisheries. Such information and expertise sharing will need to be sensitive to the desires of whaanau, marae, and hapuu to share such knowledge and skills.

Other factors

22.2.3 There are a number of other factors that are potentially or actually impacted by, or impact on Wakato-Tainui fisheries. It is critical that these other factors are understood and effects on the fisheries are effectively managed.

Taonga species

22.2.4 Taonga species are species that have some value to Waikato-Tainui and need to be effectively managed, restored, and enhanced. Their status in the fabric of Waikato-Tainui life cannot be understated. Waikato-Tainui wishes to be able to exercise mana whakahaere within their fisheries in a way that retains and enhances the tikanga, kawa, and maatauranga of Waikato-Tainui. Customary fishing practices need to be restored, retained, and enhanced through effective involvement in fisheries management.

Fisheries Management Tools

22.2.5 There are areas of significance such as lakes, rivers, coastal areas, and other areas that were renowned for providing food for significant purposes such as poukai and other hui. Waikato-Tainui wishes to protect historical whitebait fishing stands at Te Puuaha o Waikato. Waikato-Tainui also wishes to protect areas within the lakes and rivers used traditionally for fishery regeneration and to provide sustenance for traditional poukai, hui, and waananga.

22.2.6 From time to time it may be necessary for Waikato-Tainui to impose temporary protection measures, including closed seasons, for kaimoana (including fisheries) regenerative purposes. Mana whenua (including mana moana) may wish to impose these measure to allow for regeneration of kaimoana (including fisheries) for purposes such as allowing them to exercise mana whakahaere and to provide for large poukai, hui, and waananga.

22.3 Objectives, Policies & Methods

NOTE : Waikato-Tainui will take the lead in progressing a number of the policies and methods in this chapter. However, it is expected that resource users or activity owners that impact on fisheries and/or fisheries management will operate consistent with this Plan and collaborate with Waikato-Tainui in achieving or implementing the policies and methods. This will be through a reciprocal contribution to the fisheries and/or fisheries management in recognition of the impact of the resource use and/or activity on the fisheries. The specifics of this contribution will be worked through on a case-by-case basis.

Objective – holistic and coordinated approach

22.3.1 An integrated, holistic, and coordinated approach to fisheries management is achieved and sustained.

Policy – holistic and coordinated approach To ensure that an integrated, holistic, and coordinated approach to fisheries management is achieved and sustained.


(a) Links between fisheries management roles and responsibilities that impact on fisheries are clearly identified.

(b) Fisheries management and/or activities that impact on fisheries occur in a manner consistent with this Plan.

(c) Initiatives to support acquisition and sharing of information are operating.

(d) The impacts of resource use and activities on fisheries are considered in any resource use, activity planning and implementation.

(e) Consideration of the impacts of resource use and activities on fisheries is demonstrated in decision-making.

(f) Harvesting practices are such that fisheries populations are sustained (such as educating to ensure harvesting practices avoid spawning fish).

(g) Where the Ministry of Primary Industries receives an information request or application for Special Permits with the Waikato River catchment, the Special Permits Process applies.

(h) Waikato-Tainui supports the Special Permits Process being applied through the rohe of Waikato-Tainui, including in other Waikato-Tainui catchments. Waikato River Waikato-Tainui (WT) and Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Special Permit Processes


(This process has been agreed by both MPI and Waikato-Tainui for Special Permits Processing. within the Waikato River catchment. Waikato-Tainui also supports that this process should be undertaken throughout the rohe of Waikato-Tainui and outside the Waikato River Catchment.)

WT Special Permit Process 2 D 22.3


Policy – information and expertise sharing To improve the sharing of information and expertise in fisheries management.


(a) Acquire or provide information to get an understanding of the current state of the fishery in the Waikato River.

(b) Identify and pursue information needs to support the achievement of a holistic approach to fisheries management.

(c) Use the acquired information to review the effectiveness of existing policies and make recommendations on any amendments to policies.

(d) Work with fishing industry and quota owners to collate and understand information of the fisheries.

(e) Encourage co-operation between Waikato-Tainui and the fishing industry.

Policy – other factors To be aware and respond to other factors that potentially impact on fisheries or fisheries management.


(a) In undertaking or planning activities that potentially impact on fisheries or fisheries management, demonstrate, in consultation with Waikato-Tainui, how the activity does or will manage effects on:

(i) Degradation of fisheries habitat through land based effects;

(ii) Fishing structures;

(iii) Food chain effects;

(iv) Fish passage and migration;

(v) Water quality;

(vi) Biosecurity;

(vii) Other potential effects causing habitat degradation; and

(viii) Accessibility to significant fisheries areas.

(b) Undertake or implement, as appropriate, education and awareness programmes of impacts on fisheries or fisheries management.

Objective – taonga species

22.3.2 Taonga species are protected, restored and managed, consistent with the tikanga, kawa, maatauranga, and mana whakahaere of Waikato-Tainui.

Policy – taonga species To ensure that taonga species are protected, restored and managed, consistent with the tikanga, kawa, maatauranga, and mana whakahaere of Waikato-Tainui.


(a) The resource use or activity contributes to an increased abundance of taonga species, including having targets and strategies in place that contribute to achieving this objective.

(b) Objectives and management of issuing Whakaaetanga Kohikohia (Customary Fishing Licences) are achieved.

(c) Waikato-Tainui is active in fisheries management.

(d) The influence of Waikato-Tainui objectives and policies for freshwater fisheries is demonstrated in decisionmaking.

(e) Regulations are developed to enable the exercise of tikanga and kawa in the management of taonga species.

Policy – mana whakahaere Taonga species are protected and enhanced to give effect to the exercise of mana whakahaere.


(a) Undertake an assessment of the state of the fishery and taonga species in the Waikato River and its catchment, develop, and implement a monitoring plan.

(b) Undertake an assessment of the state of the fishery and taonga species in the Waikato-Tainui fishery area, develop, and implement a monitoring plan.

(c) Resource users or activity operators that impact on fisheries and/or fisheries management develop and implement an activity specific monitoring plan.

(d) Ensure that management practices protect and enhance taonga species.

(e) Understand and implement approaches to increase recruitment into the tuna fishery.

(f) Understand and implement approaches to increase the proportion of tuna that reach spawning maturity, including but not limited to:

(i) Prohibiting the commercial harvest of glass eels and elvers in the Waikato River;

(ii) Increasing the minimum size of both species of commercially harvested eels from 220g to 300g by 2014;

(iii) Reducing the maximum size for commercially harvested long finned eels from 4kg to 3kg by 2014, 2.5kg by 2016 and 2kg by 2018; and

(iv) Identifying and implementing mechanisms to prevent fishing during the eel migration and spawning run.

(g) Understand and implement approaches to manage whitebait fisheries, including reviewing and strengthening existing whitebait regulations, registration processes, structures and co-ordination.

(h) Give priority to the protection of taonga species.

(i) Manage, control and eradicate pest fish to protect water quality, aquatic habitats, and populations of native fish.

(j) Repopulate taonga species that are no longer common in the Waikato River such as kaaeo and koura.

(k) Encourage the increase of suitable habitats to support taonga species.

Policy – tikanga, kawa, and maatauranga Waikato-Tainui tikanga, kawa, and maatauranga in fisheries is retained, shared and understood.


(a) Research traditional and historical practices.

(b) Re-establish traditional practices through historical and contemporary methods.

(c) Hold community waananga, as appropriate to create awareness and understanding of traditional practices.

(d) Formalise agreements with responsible agencies to give appropriate effect to traditional practices.

Policy – customary fishing To provide for and support the management of customary fishing.


(a) Activities and resource use occurs consistent with the Waikato-Tainui (Waikato River Fisheries) Regulations 2011 and any subsequent amendment. Download regulations at http://www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2011/0294/latest/DLM3930995.html.

(b) Implement a permit system to enable Waikato-Tainui to provide for whitebait and smelt fisheries.

Policy – involvement To ensure Waikato-Tainui involvement across the management of all fisheries sectors and involvement in any and all sustainability decision-making procedures.


(a) Integrate relevant components of this Plan in decision-making across responsible agencies involved in fisheries management and monitor effectiveness of the integration.

(b) Advocate for a more accountable recreational fishery regime.

(c) Develop an agreement on how the responsible agencies will work together to better improve the management of recreational fisheries.

(d) Provide input into the development of fisheries plans for relevant species and annual supporting processes, that inform sustainability decisions for taonga species.

(e) Agree on fishing practices that shall be permitted or not permitted on the Waikato River, and the best way to achieve compliance, including but not limited to:

(i) Ensuring banned practices such as drift netting are clearly defined and understood.

(ii) Ensuring restrictions on methods, such as the location of set nets in relation to river/stream/ water body mouths are clear and enforceable in the context of the Waikato River environment.

(f) Agree on fishing practices that shall be permitted or not permitted in Waikato-Tainui fisheries other than the Waikato-River.

Objective – fisheries management tools

22.3.3 Fisheries management tools protect, restore, and manage taonga species.

Policy –  fisheries management tools To use fisheries management tools so that taonga species are protected, restored and managed.


For clarity the methods in this policy apply equally to fresh water and marine fisheries.

(a) Closed areas: No person shall gather kaimoana, fish species, or be in possession of any food gathering or fishing gear in any of the areas identified by Waikato-Tainui as closed and/or otherwise subject to the Waikato-Tainui Fisheries Regulations. Download regulations at http://www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2011/0294/latest/DLM3930995.html.

(b) Restricted areas: No person shall gather kaimoana, fish species or be in possession of any food gathering or fishing gear in any of the areas identified by Waikato-Tainui as restricted unless they hold a Whakaaetanga Kohikohia authorised by Waikato-Tainui.

(c) Closed season (Raahui): If Waikato-Tainui places a raahui over kaimoana or a fish species and/or an area for a period of time, no person shall, during that period of time,:

(i) Gather or fish for that species; and/or

(ii) Gather or fish in that specified area; and/or

(iii) Be in possession of any kaimoana or fish taken from those waters or places during that period;


(iv) Be in possession of any kaimoana gathering or fishing gear for that species in that specified area during that period.

(d) Other: other fisheries management tools that may be, from time to time, developed by Waikato-TainuiWT Special Permit Process D 22.3