At least five iwi, hapu and whanau groups have recently applied for coastal and marine titles and customary rights in the Hauraki area.
The groups put their cases to the government and High Court over the last few weeks in response to a final call for applications under the Marine and Coastal Act 2011.
Hauraki District Council communications officer Paula Trubshaw says it’s possible other groups may have applied without notifying the council.
“The council is keen to stay in the loop on developments, so we have registered an interest by serving notices of appearance on all applications relating to the area,” says Paula.
The 2011 act replaces the highly contentious Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004, which was reviewed in 2009, following a strong public reaction from Maori.
Under the new act, groups can apply for protected customary rights and customary marine titles which protect their intrinsic and inherited rights in relation to coastal and marine areas, from the king high tide mark out to the 12-mile territorial limit.
“If granted, a marine title would allow a group to protect wahi tapu, give or decline permission for activities requiring resource consent, and assume ownership of newly found taonga in the area,” says Paula.
“The granting of protected customary rights would ensure legal rights to activities such as gathering kaimoana, launching waka, imposing rahui, the use of resources such as minerals, shingle and peat, and the collection of medicinal and food plants.”
The new act theoretically also safeguards the rights of the general public, who will continue to have legal access to all coastal and marine areas despite their ownership status, and the right to continue to engage in activities in these areas such as boating and fishing.
The five applications the council is aware of involve a number of coastal areas in the district, which they will be keeping tabs on.