Submissions Sought on rolling over Maunganui Bay Rahui

To open Maunganui Bay to recreational and commercial extraction would be ‘premature’ according to Ngatai Kuta me Patukeha o Ngatai, who, with help from other stakeholders, established a rahui over the area two years ago.

They are seeking a two-year roll-over of the current rahui under section 186 of the Fisheries Act to continue rebuilding the fishery and stocks. The area, which includes the popular Bay of Islands anchorage Deep Water Cove and is the final resting place of the former RNZN frigate Canterbury, is showing positive signs of recovery.

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“Our surveys conclude biodiversity improvements are working but are not yet at a sustainable level to open for extraction. The ex-HMNZS Canterbury in Maunganui Bay continues to play its role as an artificial reef together with the surrounding reef systems and kelp forests that are re-establishing themselves”, Ngatai Kuta me Patukeha state in their submission to MPI.

“Our surveys demonstrate a need to maintain the rahui for another term as the schools of migratory fish and overall biodiversity are building. Maunganui Bay has also proven to be a classroom of learning for schools and whanau to study the natural order of the fishery and the Maramataka and Technical sciences to support it.”

If it were to be open for extraction, its kaitiaki says it will get fished down in a few weeks, forcing the no-take area to go through the whole rebirth cycle again, Ngatai Kute me Patukeha suggest.

“Support for Rahui by the Bay of Islands public, recreational fishing, commercial and tourism groups who respect and support the Rahui and advocate for its role that feeds into the wider natural eco-systems, is noted.”

“Harvesting must be contained within survival limits and which we can only measure from the data we capture by observation. Consideration for the economic viability of the Northland fishery as a backbone of the Northland economy is understood. But without fish, there is no economy, so we must balance what this fishery can provide to sustain itself.”

Currently, only kina can be taken from Maunganui Bay by the public, with a Customary Permit required for all other species.

Maunganui Bay is only one part of a complex network of eco-systems that the Maunganui Bay guardians say are precious to Māori and their traditions. There are 69 rahui, taiāpure, mataitai,  temporary closures, or similar non-extraction areas throughout New Zealand – 24 in the North Island and 45 in the South Island, including Stewart Island.

MPI is calling for submissions on the proposed rahui extension to be submitted before September 5. [email protected]

The sinking of the former RNZN frigate Canterbury in Maunganui Bay has created an artificial reef popular with divers and the local fish population. Photo: Paihia Dive



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