National | Customary Rights

Long-held customary interests of Ngāti Porou hapū recognised

The Crown has recognised 14 customary marine title areas along the East Cape and East Coast in ngā rohe moana o ngā hapū o Ngāti Porou, Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Andrew Little said today.

This recognition reflects the determination of ngā hapū o Ngāti Porou to safeguard its longstanding customary rights and the continued exercise of mana by ngā hapū o Ngāti Porou in its rohe moana.

Customary marine title recognises customary rights and interests that whānau, hapū or iwi can show they have had in an area of the takutai moana (common marine and coastal area) from 1840, in accordance with strict legal tests.

“Thank you to ngā hapū o Ngāti Porou for its commitment through this long journey since reaching agreement with the Crown to recognise its customary rights and interests in the marine and coastal area in 2008,” Little said.

“Ngā hapū o Ngāti Porou has contributed extensive research and collection of historical evidence which, along with the Crown’s historical research and public consultation, assisted the Crown in being satisfied the legal tests for customary marine title were met in these areas.”

Ngāti Porou was the only iwi that reached an agreement with the Crown under the now-repealed Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004. When that act was reviewed and repealed, the Crown promised to honour its commitments to Ngāti Porou.

Following the passage of the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act in 2011, the original agreement was updated to reflect features of the new act, including the new legal test for customary marine title. The agreement was given effect by Ngā Rohe Moana o Ngā Hapū o Ngāti Porou Act 2019.

How it works

Customary marine title enables the holders to exercise certain rights through involvement in resource consent and Conservation Act processes, customary fisheries management, the ownership of non-Crown minerals and taonga tūturu in the title area, and protection of wāhi tapu, such as urupā (grave sites).

The customary marine title orders take effect today

Customary marine title is not fee simple ownership, but an expression of customary rights and interests in part of the common marine and coastal area. The marine and coastal area (takutai moana) is the land from mean high water springs out to the territorial limit. In other words, it is the “wet part” of the beach, and the seabed out to 12 nautical miles.

Customary marine title does not affect general public access, fishing (subject to bylaws being made to protect customary fishing areas), or navigation rights. However, the right of public access in the common marine and coastal area does not give any new rights to the public to cross private land without permission in order to reach the marine and coastal area.

Applications for customary marine title under the Ngā Rohe Moana o Ngā Hapū o Ngāti Porou Act (or under te Takutai Moana Act) are determined by the High Court or the responsible minister depending on who the application was made to. The legal tests, and the thresholds for evidence, are the same.

The Ngā Rohe Moana o Ngā Hapū o Ngāti Porou (Recognition of Customary Marine Title) Order 2020 can be found on the website.  The order has the full list of the customary marine title areas.