SICFR Questions and Answers

We have pulled together a series of answers to questions that have been raised during our whānau engagement hui below to help provide more detail and context to the information we have provided regarding the South Island Customary Fishing Regulations and the mediation process.

Plese let us know if there is anything else of interest that we may have missed by contacting us at


1. What are the South Island Customary Fishing Regulations?  

The South Island Customary Fishing Regulations came about in 1999 to enable iwi of Te Tauihu to responsibly manage customary food gathering areas according to tikanga. Find out more about customary fishing regulations here:  

2. What regulations is Te Ātiawa currently operating under?  

Te Ātiawa is currently operating under recreational fishing regulations. 

3. Why can’t we continue operating as we are?  

Recreational fishing regulations are not sufficient to protect us legally from other parties’ interests in kaimoana across Te Tauihu.   

In addition, under our current operations, we don’t have full and comprehensive oversight over our rohe moana. Currently, all iwi of Te Tauihu are entitled to write permits for any area. We lack data and records on who is writing permits, how much kaimoana is being taken and, crucially, the health and sustainability of the moana. We are also unable to access protection mechanisms that are afforded under the SICFR.  

4. What will change for Te Ātiawa under the SICFR?  

Under the SICFR, all iwi agree to operate under a tikanga-led kaitiaki framework in which we collectively agree to the rohe moana of each iwi and to the values and principles that we collectively uphold.  

For example, for Te Ātiawa this will likely see us move from a situation in which kaitiaki from all eight iwi are currently able to write permits within Tōtaranui, to one in which alongside Te Ātiawa and in accordance with tikanga, only one or two other iwi will issue permits in this rohe moana.   

Overall, this will provide us a higher level of visibility over the permit-writing process, as well as accurate data that allows us to actively manage the moana, improving our ability to be better kaitiaki, so that we can leave it in a better shape for the next generation.

5. Why has Te Ātiawa decided against proceeding to arbitration to resolve the outstanding issues?  

After careful consideration of the avenues open to us, Te Ātiawa decided that proceeding to arbitration carries unacceptable risk. Arbitration would see an external party determining what is essentially our tikanga, and making a decision that’s legally binding, on our behalf. There would be little recourse to action.   

6. What is the purpose of the kawenata?  

The purpose of the kawenata is to provide a tikanga-led framework, to complete the mediation process to implement the SICFR within the Te Tauihu rohe moana, and thus prevent arbitration.  

The kawenata and tikanga-led framework will be co-designed by the iwi of Te Tauihu to support iwi, tangata kaitiaki, and all other associated parties involved with customary fishing regulations in Te Tauihu.

7. Is the kawenata legally binding?  

It is not legally binding. It is however a signed document that sets in place the collective intent of the eight iwi of Te Tauihu to establish a kaitiaki framework for tangata kaitiaki to be established under the SICFR.  It defines the values and principles that each iwi and their respective kaitiaki agree to adopt and abide by. 

8. Will a non-exclusive approach to customary fisheries management in Te Tauihu undermine the mana moana of Te Ātiawa, as ascertained in our Treaty settlement?  

No. The mana moana of each of the iwi parties is respected and sacrosanct in the context of this framework. The principle of non-exclusivity is intended to provide the basis for an ongoing collaborative relationship expressly for the purpose of implementing the SICFR.  

9. What about our objection to the 2007 Map of Management of Customary Fishing? 

We maintain our objection to the 2007 Map of Management of Customary Fishing. Our assertion that the Te Tauihu customary marine area is not one single ‘particular area’, but multiple ‘particular areas’ that require further clarification and agreement, still stands. We have submitted an alternative draft map for consideration by the other iwi in forthcoming mediation. 

10. What does the removal of Te Ātiawa objections mean in practice?  

Removing our objection means that we are in a position to enter the SICFR alongside the other eight iwi of Te Tauihu, providing us legal and formal protection of our customary fishing rights now and into the future.  

11. What does this mean for our position on Tōtaranui? 

We note that other iwi have an association with parts of the Te Tauihu Coastal Marine Area, including Tōtaranui, and we are prepared, therefore, to agree to a notice that confirms the sharing of customary fishing rights with other iwi in other areas, by agreement. 

(This is subject to the establishment of the kawenata, or tikanga-led kaitiaki framework, and agreed mechanisms for the management, administration, and resourcing of these management areas, as mentioned above.) 

12. Does this mean we are giving up Tōtaranui?

No. This is the best pathway for us to maintain our standing as mana whenua/ mana moana in Tōtaranui.   

13. What will be the Te Ātiawa rohe moana once we enter the SICFR?  

Te Ātiawa are mana whenua/ mana moana in Tōtaranui. Under the kawenata, we agree to the principle of inclusivity, which acknowledges that there are a number of shared and overlapping interests collectively held by Te Tauihu iwi within the Te Tauihu rohe moana.  

14. What does this mean for our current kaitiaki?  

Under the regulations, we will be required to formalise our processes for appointing tangata kaitiaki. We will work with our kaitiaki on any changes that need to take place under the new regulations.   

15. Does this mean other iwi will write permits for our rohe moana?  

For the last 25 years, under recreational regulations, all iwi have had free rein to write permits anywhere in Te Tauihu regardless of their customary rohe moana. Under iwi settlement processes, it was determined that all eight Te Tauihu iwi have equal statutory acknowledgements across the whole of Te Tauihu. 

Under the kawenata, it is likely that fewer iwi will write permits for our rohe moana, and that those relationships will be able to be better managed by Te Ātiawa as mana whenua/ mana moana.  

16. What does this mean for MACA and other kaupapa?  

Any agreement that we make in the interest of entering the SICFR relates only to the SICFR. It does not affect or influence the work we are doing around the MACA or any other kaupapa.  

17. Who is making these decisions on behalf of Te Ātiawa?  

These decisions have been made by the Te Ātiawa Trust Board, on behalf of our iwi. We acknowledge the responsibility on us to do what is right for future generations and we are seeking iwi participation and input on this important kaupapa. The Trust Board’s current stance is to proceed as outlined here in the strong belief that entering the SICFR is the best and right course of action for our iwi today and into the future.