For decades Kaikoura has been recognised to have one of New Zealand’s richest marine environments.
The nutrient rich water not only attracts a variety of whales like the endangered sperm whale, but also supports New Zealand fur seal colonies, a variety of seabirds, dusky and common dolphins and even the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin – the endangered Hector’s dolphin.
This marine environment is also home to a variety of fish including sharks and rays that depend on the abundant food supplies and unique habitat types found around Kaikoura
Forest and Bird, like many in Kaikoura, have recognised the importance of this marine environment and the need for its protection due to the rising threats such as fishing, habitat destruction, pollution and potential mining.
In 1992 Forest & Bird proposed a marine reserve around part of the Kaikoura Peninsula to protect the diverse sea-life found in these waters and its various intertidal habitats, but this was eventually shelved by the government.
In 2002 the Te Runanga o Kaikoura and the Kaikoura Marine and Coastal Protection Society proposed a section rahui around the Waiopuka reef on the Kaikoura Peninsula. This no take rahui was created due to growing concerns over the pressure from recreational, commercial and customary harvests depleting fish stocks.
Many groups agreed that greater protection was needed, and eventually the local iwi Ngati Kuri’s spearheaded a plan to protect this treasured piece of water and coastal habitat by creating theTe Korowai coastal marine guardian group.
Te Korowai Marine Strategy
In 2005, Te Korowai o Te Tai o Marokura, a group made up of commercial and recreational fishermen, and representatives from the Runanga, Department of Conservation, Kaikoura District Council, local businesses and Forest & Bird, began working on a marine protection strategy.
On the 1st of September, 2011 Te Korowai released the marine strategy ‘sustaining our sea’. Soon after it was put out for public consultation.
Prime Minister John Key announced on 16th March 2014 in Kaikoura that the government had accepted the Kaikoura Marine Strategy and it is before select committee.
We are expecting a decision by the end of 2014.