A customary right or wrong? : a study of the effects of the Kaimoana Customary Fishing Regulations on hapu of Ngati Kahungunu : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
This thesis presents a critical analysis of customary fishing in the light of the rise of indigeneity in these post modern times. The cumulative effects of early colonial fisheries legislation and the exploitation of natural resources aligned with diminished tangata whenua traditional knowledge and practices have generally gone unnoticed. Given recent fisheries litigation and the subsequent legislation development, this study focuses specifically on the effects of the Kaimoana Customary Fishing Regulations (1998) for all the relevant shore based hapu of the iwi/tribal nation of Ngati Kahungunu. The central research question for this thesis explores how these Ngati Kahungunu hapu have responded, adapted, challenged, or adjusted to Crown law and customary fisheries legislation. Of equal significance, is finding out whether or not such contemporary Westminster originating laws engendered difficulties for Maori traditional hapu lore especially when it came to managing their customary fisheries. In order to examine these questions, tangata kaitiaki (Maori customary fisheries managers) were identified as the respondent pool to draw from, and four were selected to be interviewed based on their experience and understanding of the Kaimoana Customary Fishing Regulations and knowledge of their obligations to hapu. As a qualitative piece of research, the interview questionnaire for these chosen tangata kaitiaki allowed for their thoughts and experiences to do the talking and, more importantly, be recorded. The korero of the respondents and results of the study are envisaged as guidelines for improving hapu customary fisheries management practices, traditional knowledge and increased awareness. In addition, the overview of historical and contemporary Maori fisheries provides an understanding and awareness of a complex and difficult subject. The duel need to satisfy academic requirements of Massey University and remain focused on the well-being of Ngati Kahungunu hapu customary fisheries led my preference toward a qualitative research approach principally because Te Ao Maori is immersed in oral traditions. The tangata kaitiaki shared their wisdom and understanding of the Kaimoana regulations based on the impact on their rohe, feedback from their hapu and philosophical values of maintaining and promoting rangatiratanga over their resources. Key indicators from the study show that tangata whenua and particularly tangata kaitiaki are adjusting customary fishing practices and traditions to align with the contemporary reshaping of customary fishing rights into a regulatory regime. All the respondents understood there is no survival of the resource without sustainability, the fundamental aim of kaitiakitanga. And, despite all the administration and resources residing with the Crown, tangata whenua have continued to undertake their kaitiaki responsibilities with little or no resources. After loss of land, chieftainship, language, resources and economic and political power, customary fishing is the last bastion of Maori control over a tangible asset. The key findings of the study sign posts for me the following whakataukï. Ka pu te ruha ka hao te rangatahi ka awatea. The old net is cast aside, the new net goes fishing, it is a new dawn.