A new fight may be developing between the Government and iwi over fishing rights, this time in the Marlborough Sounds.
Proposals to reserve parts of the Sounds for recreational fishers has angered Maori based at the top of the South Island, and they are urging the Government to abandon the idea.
The combined fishing trusts of those iwi, known as Te Tau Ihi Fisheries, said the recreational fishing parks "usurp the historical and traditional rights of ... iwi to exercise tino rangitiratanga over our fisheries".
The parks "directly impact on our Treaty settlements", Te Tau Ihi said in its written submission. The iwi also said the proposals gave recreational fishers priority over their customary and commercial rights.
As with the Kermadecs, I support a recreational fishing park in the Marlborough Sounds. I also support the government keeping its Treaty settlements and respecting iwi rights. These are not incompatible goals, and I don't think it is beyond the wit of a competent Minister to negotiate a deal which enables both ends. The problem is that Nick Smith is not a competent Minister. As the article points out, he has a history of trying (and failing) to steamroller policy through while ignoring Maori rights, on Auckland housing and the Kermadecs. Given that history and the significant Maori interests around the environment portfolio, he is the last person who should be trusted with it. But apparently sharing your holidays with the PM trumps competence in the National Party. And we all get to pay the price for that.