Transcripts of the speeches at the opening of New Zealand's first marine reserve
25th May, 1977

The opening of New Zealand's first marine reserve was for many a most important event. This document lets you experience the moment as if it happened yesterday, thanks to a tape recorded by Dr Floor Anthoni. We have faithfully transcribed the contents of this tape, making only cosmetic changes to make it more readable. A concise summary extracts the main points of each speech.

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Summary of points covered in each speach

Lew Ritchie, chairman of the management committee
  • we have many reserves of many types on land but none in the sea.
  • the Goat Island area is varied both above and under water, with many habitat types
  • coastal seas are a finite resource, under enormous pressure
  • the marine reserve concept is new and here to stay
  • the area will return to a more natural state
  • experience with this reserve will guide us for further ones
  • marine and terrestrial reserves should be integrated across the water's boundary
  • the management committee wishes to promote awareness
  • marine research must benefit the reserve and future ones

George McMillan, Commissioner of Crown Lands and Chairman of Hauraki Maritime Park Board
  • the marine reserve concept is highly desirable
  • Goat Island is part of the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park
  • this reserve may lead to many more
  • marine reserves are now supported worldwide
  • the problems creating them, are experienced worldwide, also in NZ
  • NZ is advanced in conservation; being watched by international bodies (IUCN, UNEP, etc)
  • a management committee is needed to expand facilities like car parking
  • the management committee is well chosen
  • further marine reserves mooted: Takatu Peninsula, Poor Knights Islands
  • urgent survey of coastal waters needed for placing new marine reserves

Dr Philip Tortell, Commissioner for the Environment
  • NZ has 4000 miles of coastline
  • our marine resources are underutilised, including fisheries
  • what should our objectives be for more marine reserves?
  • conservation and protection from development are not good enough reasons
  • marine reserves for multiple purposes and multiple uses, like terrestrial reserves
  • reserves also for the careful management of our (marine) resources
  • who should be responsible? Fisheries? Scientists? Tourism? Local bodies? Lands & Surveys Dept?

Laly Haddon, speaking on behalf of the local residents
  • locals supported the idea but were ill advised
  • support turned into adversity
  • many rumours and fears were not well addressed
  • farmers feared repercussions on their businesses for unimportant aspects of marine conservation
  • locals were poorly consulted and are not represented on the committee

Minister Bolger Speaking for the Minister of Fisheries and for the [National] Government
  • nobody should be deprived of their livelihood to pursue the establishment of a reserve
  • the only interference is in not taking life from the area
  • this restriction is necessary for it to work
  • for each new reserve, everyone should be fully informed and consulted
  • NZ gets an Exclusive Economic Zone of 200 nautical miles, 14 times land area, 4th in the world.
  • we need to know more about the sea to manage fisheries in this large area
  • marine reserves and scientists working there could help provide data rather than guestimates
  • marine reserve will become a haven for anyone wishing to see marine life forms in their natural environment.



25th MAY 1977

1. Introduction - Chairman, Marine Reserve Management Committee
2. General Programme
3. Guide to displays and current studies in the Reserve
4. Some preliminary results of Marine Reserve Survey

Also available: Public information leaflets on various aspects of the marine reserve.


The concept of marine reserves is a new way of thinking about the sea. People have been concerned enough about the New Zealand land surface to create well in excesses of 1000 reserves of various types but none of these extended below mean high water mark.

Many ecological relationships cross the shore line, and many New Zealanders also cross this threshold, often without thought or pause, for pleasure of profit. The pressures on coastal seas are enormous  -  ever-increasing demand for port facilities, expanding marine industries, and increasing fishing, marine farming, recreational, housing and tourist pressures.  But even the sea is finite, its life forms are not necessarily renewable; the coastal zone is fragile and sensitive to man-modification ion yet paradoxically very prone to abuse.

The creation of New Zealand's first marine reserve is epoch-making - the first occasion since European settlement that a portion of the inshore seas has been officially sanctified and preserved for posterity because of its beauty, richness, diversity, and accessibility, rather than marked for exploitation.

Under the Marine Reserves Act this area will have two purposes:- to enable people to see and enjoy in a totally non-exploitative way a coastal sea strip and all its life forms which are being allowed to return to as near a natural state as possible; and to allow scientific research which will benefit the coastal zone generally and the reserve in particular and will improve our appreciation of it. The management committee is charge with these objectives and with the broader ideal of expanding awareness of the marine reserve concept and care of the sea.

L. D. Ritchie
Chairman, Cape Rodney - Okakari Point Marine Reserve
Management Committee
2. GENERAL PROGRAMME,  May 25th 1977 
2.00pm  Speeches and formal opening ceremony performed by the Minister.
3.00pm(Approx) Tour of displays 
At Goat Island Bay if fine, otherwise in Leigh Hall.
7.30pm  Films, talks, slides, and displays in Leigh Hall

3. A BRIEF GUIDE to current studies in the marine reserve
(Numbers indicate projects on display - May 25th 1977, names are of the workers.)

1. A three-dimensional model and a general topographic map of the area set the scene (Mr A. Penniket and Miss H. Mulder).

2. Aerial photography high and low level, vertical and oblique, colour and black and white, from ordinary planes and from helicopter, is used to give information on underwater details -  down to 15m in good weather conditions. (Messers P. Henriques, K. Johnson, M. Kampman and others)

3. Detailed maps (scale 1:1,000) show the distribution of biological habitats, these require extensive diving to interpret the aerial photographs.  (Messers P. Kingett, N. Sadgrove, A. MacDiarmid, C. Battershill, F. Power etc.)

4. Fish Counts providing information on the " mobile" animals.

5. Underwater photography of the sea bed, together with permanent survey marks, give a picture of the fixed and crawling life (Mr A. Ayling etc.)

6. Information leaflets are designed to help pass this work on to visitors, schools etc. (Miss K. Walls and Dr. J Walsby)

7. The Ecklonia kelp is the largest and commonest plant in the reserve forming dense "forests" (Dr J. Choat)

8. The low-tide kelps fringe the lower shore and shallow rock (Mr D. Schiel)

9. Sea eggs (Evechinus) eat kelp both as drift pieces and by direct attack at the forest margins (Mr. N. Walker)

10. Fish especially leather-jackets and spotties use the kelp as shelter when young before moving out as adults to more open rock (Mr. G. Jones)

11. Grazing snails follow sea eggs and help keep the rock clear (Mr G. Hartley)

12. "Lace corals"(Gryozoa): over a 100 species of these encrusting or moss-like animals live in the reserve, dominating the rock in places (Dr D. Gordon)

13. Sponges and even commoner group of sessile animals, forming  "gardens" over large areas (Mrs A. Ayling)

14. Blennies some 8-9 species of these tiny but colourful and abundant fish live in the reserve, several are still undescribed (Miss S. Thompson and Miss C. Hanford)

15. "Sea Hares"(Aplysia) graze on small soft seaweeds and grow very rapidly in their one year of life (Mr R. Willan)

16. Phytoplankton the microscopic plants that provide the basis for most marine life (Dr. F. Taylor)

17. Homosira the common shore seaweed (like necklace) studies (Miss M Begum)

18. Ecklonia the common kelp, is being studied for the very young stages and  "alternative" generation (Miss I. Hall)

19. Sea Squirts (Ascidians) dominate under sub-tidal boulders and their growth and breeding can be studied using paving slabs (Mr G. Venus)

20. Inter-tidal boulders have some of the most complex and compact patterns of encrusting life known (Mr A. Cummings)

21. Climate monitoring air: shore and sub-tidal climates are measured regularly and analysed for seasonal and long-term patterns (Dr W. Ballantine and Mr and Mrs J. Crossley)

22. Underwater acoustics: Sound travels better in water and is used in a wide variety of physical applications (Professor Kibblewhite and others)

23. Current measurements: for long-term results radio drogues are used and telemetry is also used from wave buoys (Professor Suckling and others)

24. Data logging: The flow of information from many monitoring instruments requires computer analysis (Mr J. Evans)

25. Experimental seawater systems are mainly used in marine biology but their design and construction is difficult engineering ( Mr T Wustenberg)

26. Scallop biology: Large bivalve molluscs are not common in the reserve but beds exist not far away (Mr J. Nicholson)

27. Animal plankton is not at present studied in the reserve but a study is going on in the Whangateau Harbour (Mr M. Davenport)

28. Juvenile fish are also being studied in the Whangateau (Mr J. May)

29. Previous studies within the marine reserve include the biology of brittle stars and barnacles, the homing of limpets, the effects of wave action on shore life, the settlement of "fouling" organisms, the details temperature structure of water, fish feeding and artificial reefs.

Despite all the work done and now going on, we are still very ignorant about most natural processes with the reserve.
4. MARINE RESERVE SURVEY - Mapping of the Reserve

The actual size of each map area is 500 x 625 meters and 13 of these maps cover the entire shoreline of the reserve including Goat Island. Aerial photographs and underwater survey techniques were used to map the sub-tidal habitats and draw depth contours. 


THE CHAIRMAN (Mr Lew Ritchie):

Many people have put in an enormous amount of effort and energy into the establishment of this reserve and the whole concept of Marine Reserves. Unfortunately we are stuck in the hall today, the right place is at the  reserve, we can't alter the weather. The reserve itself stretches from Cape Rodney in the south-east to along 6 kilometres of coast to Okakariki Point in the north-west. It encompasses every conceiveable type of warm inshore temperate sea, boulder bottom, kelp forest, sponge gardens, cliffs, caverns and sandy bottoms.

Along the shore of the reserve, we have equally interesting array of shore features. We have again the sandy gravel rocky shore, we have sweeping hills running down to sea. We have short pohutukawa crowning cliffs.  In the middle of it all we have a scenic land reserve -  Goat Island.

Now the concepts in this reserve are here to stay. Everything is new and we have few guide lines and the legislation is very imperfect. Not every one is happy with the reserve, especially such things as a total ban on fishing.  Very recently last Friday a double tragedy - two young boys drowned in the reserve. The committe extends its sympathy to the family.

Despite all the problems the committe is remaining optimistic and in fact even buoyant! Because this reserve with all its imperfections is epoch making. It's the first time in European settlement in New Zealand, in which we have offically sanctified a piece of coast. We have set it aside for posterity because of its riches and beauty and the diversity and abundance of its life forms, rather than setting it up for its exploitation.  It is also set aside for people to enjoy. It's very  much a people thing - the Reserve -  in the eyes of the committee.

Now if we contrast this tentative start in the Marine Reserve field in our land, since we have in excess of a thousand scenic reserves on land alone in New Zealand plus many other types of wild life sanctury, wilderness areas etc., I think quite unnaturally of these, in the past, have ended in the "mean high water".

It is only relatively recently that we have realised that the coastal seas, just like the land, are a finite resource.  They are under enormous pressure from all sides with increasing fisheries, fishing pressure, shell fish farming, tourism, recreation, shipping, port facilties and even coastal subdivisions. So that the reserve, if you like, is a little block that is set aside that can never be touched, we hope.

Now a basic provision of the legislation connected with the reserve is that it allows scientific research.  Now this research must benefit the reserve. We as the management committee would ensure that it must benefit the reserve, it must benefit our coastal management as a whole and perhaps, equally importantly, is it going to give us a guide line to the changes that occur as we allow this piece of coast to return to as near as natural a state as possible.

Right at the moment a huge survey and mapping exercise is under way led by Dr Tony Ayling of Auckland University Laboratory next to the reserve.  Our committe has the daunting but very worthwhile task of managing the reserve, but more importanly of creating the guidelines and policies for the future which at the moment is in vacuum. These guidelines will probally be used in some form or other for future reserves. Just a brief note on the future: I hope we can come round to a slightly different way we think about the sea and that we do away with this artificial boundary "Mean High Water". I would like to see reserves in future extending from the land into the sea with no interruption just as many ecological relationships too, in fact our own involvement with the water.

Well, I'm just finishing up now. We have invited, the committee has invited, people who are all vitally interested and connected with the sea in some form or other to give you their views on this reserve and the future of marine reserves.

It gives me great pleasure to welcome Mr George McMillan as our first speaker - the Commissioner of Crown Lands and Chairman of Hauraki Maritime Park Board.



(Commissioner of Crown Lands and Chairman of Hauraki Maritime Park Board):

Thankyou Mr Chairman, Mr Minister, ladies and gentlemen. It gives me great pleasure to be here at the opening of this first marine reserve for a number of reasons -
Firstly I believe that the concept of marine reserves is highly desirable.  As the years go by, I think it might be seen as essential for the wellbeing and balance of our overall environment.
Secondly because this particular area is so closely associated with the responsibility of the Hauraki Gulf Park Board, of which I am the chairman. Goat Island itself is part of the park and the park board is deeply involved in all matters affecting the waters affecting the Hauraki Gulf.
Thirdly I think this is an occasion and event which could well lead to the establishment of further marine reserves around the New Zealand coast line - something of which I think is most neccessary.

The birth of this first marine reserve in New Zealand has not been without pain. I'm not sure whether the neccessary marriage of ideas has been yet fully consumated. It is a fact, however, that right around the world governments have formally given their approval in support of the concept of marine reserves. Often
through the passing of legislation, that when it comes to the establishment of such reserves, there often seems to be apparantly insurmountable problems and difficulties.

For a long time it seemed that this was the case with this reserve here at Leigh. Assuming the will was there on the part of successive governments to see the reserve set up, I can only assume the same difficulties existed in New Zealand as existed everywhere else. Suffice it to say, it has been a long job but thankfully it has been acheived and I think all credit must go to those who brought it about. I'm not so sure that the setting up of marine reserve in this country has really been supported over the years. I have the feeling that a lot of lip service was given to the concept for a long time until very recent times, but as I said before, it has reached the stage where New Zealand's first marine reserve has been created, and all credit to those responsible.

The government is also to be congratulated on the setting up of a management committee in terms of the act for this new reserve. We are in fact being watched from overseas in this matter. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and those people associated with the United Nations Educational Environmental Program will no doubt note the significance of what is happening in New Zealand at the present time. The significance of the creation of this new reserve and its management committee will certainly not be lost overseas.

At an international conference in Tokoyo in 1975, which I attended, there was a lot of suprise expressed that New Zealand's outstanding accomplishments in the national parks and terrestial reserves field had not at all been matched by the complimentary establisment of marine reserves. People from all over the world couldn't understand this. They said New Zealand is so far advanced with a reserve system, what is wrong with you, can't you see it is equally important to have areas of coastal sea bed and sea shore reserve? It seems to those who were talking, that a period of four years after New Zealand had brought down its legislation with still nothing having happened, was an excessive period of time. The need to compliment terrestrial reserves with statutory protection of the sea frontages, was stressed over and over again at that conference, and has many times before and since.

This first marine reserve in New Zealand is a very fine one. I venture to suggest as the years go by, its work for both scientific and recreational purposes will be increasingly recognised.

The presence of the Auckland Marine Laboratory, in a key location near the reserve, is fortunate. I know quite rightly the University is represented on the managment committee. I hope that giving the local authority generous representation on the small management committee, will also mean the Council will play an enthuseastic and genuine part in the committee's future activity.

There are various matters for instance which could obviously be looked at early: one provision of more adequate space for car parking and associated activities to involve important management policy relative to the waters and the sea bed.  I'm sure it will approach this task with enthusiasm and a with a full awareness of its importance. I think it is also important that the Government and County Council are the major participants in the management committee, making the necessary financial or other resources available to allow this committee to do its job properly and carry out its function.

I would now very briefly turn to the matter of further marine reserves. Many interested people and organisations are pressing for the establishment of a marine reserve aroung the Poor Knights Islands and this has received considerable publicity.  The ARA (Auckland Regional Authority, now Auckland Regional Council ARC) is also interested in having a reserve created around its important regional reserve on the Takatu Penisula. Both of these proposals I would strongly support, but there is an equally pressing need and this is for a nation-wide survey of our coastline to establish just where further marine reserves are required and there must be a balance in this too. We cannot lock up the whole coastline in reserves but somebody should be looking at it to decide where really important areas are.  What about, for instance, the Parengarenga Harbour in the Far North, certain parts of the Marlborough Sounds or selected mangrove areas in the Hokianga?

I'm not saying that anyone or any of those should be a reserve, but they should be considered for reservation.  Now coupled with this need for an overall survey, is an urgent need to provide the provisions for the present Marine Reserves Act.  The chairman has just said that in his opinion the Act is somewhat deficient.  I couldn't agree more.  If only to update criteria for the establishment of further reserves, this is desirable.

In terms of present responsiblities the task of a national review of the coastline to determine further marine reserve needs, should be undertaken by the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. I hope the ministry is geared for such a task and willing to undertake it. If not, there are other agencies anxious to do so.

Returning now to this marine reserve at Leigh, and finish my comments. I do sincerely congratulate those responsible for its establishment.  It is particularly pleasing to see the minister Mr Bolger here today. I think this in itself is significant and shows that the Government, through the minister, is very interested in what is happening. Finally I thank the organisers for the honour of speaking on this occasion and I again wish the reserve and its managment committee every success. Thank you.

Thank you very much Mr McMillan.  Very thought-provoking comments. I would now like to call on Dr Philip Tortell of the Commission for the Environment, to express the commission's view on the marine reserve.

DR PHILIP TORTELL (Commission for the Environment):

Thank you Mr Chairman, Mr Bolger, Ladies and Gentlemen. I must first of all transmit the appologies of the Commissioner of the Environment Mr Bongaard who couldn't attend the opening of this reserve in person because he happens to be overseas. I am personally quite pleased about this because it gives me the opportunity to participate in this occassion.  In New Zealand we are an island nation with round-about 4,000 miles of coast line, and for long we have been under-utilising the coast line and its marine resources.  Sure enough, we have used the marine environment for recreation but mainly on the surface.  We have also involved ourselves in fishing, but it is something which we are told is again an under-utilised resource.

In the last few years we have started mining the sea bed for oil and gas and we have also started farming the sea. In fact, it is significant that in the statutes back in 1971, both the marine farming act and a few pages after, the marine reserve act...  It might look as if these two activities are not exactly complementary but it certainly is an indication of the growing awareness of the importance of our marine resources.

The Marine Reserves Act was passed in 1971. The first marine reserve was declared in 1975.  We are here today inaugurating it. The period of time between the passing of the act and inauguration of the first marine reserve was mentioned first by Mr Mcmillan, and the problems that were encountered, are well known to you all.  I can recall in the intervening years and the years before that the problem or the subject of the marine reserve at Leigh, cropping up annually at every meeting of the New Zealand Marine Sciences Society. We were always given an account of where it has got to and where and how much more hurdles have to be overcome before something substantial could happen. These problems beg the question of what should our objectives be in creating marine reserves or for that matter reserves anywhere. And I suppose from somebody who is representing the commission for the environment, most people would expect to hear that objectives would be: conservation for future generations or protection from developments and so on.

These are noble sentiments but unfortunately on their own, they are not entirely desirable. There is another number of uses, which the marine resource can be taken up for. If we look on land, we find that there are parts of the country-reserve that are reserved for conservation for its intrinsic value of scenery for recreation, for sport and for a number of other activities, among them reserves which have been put aside by local bodies for activities even like collection of water. So there are a number of reasons why we should put reserves aside and I would suggest that in the marine environment probably most, if not all of the same reasons exist as these exist on land. And I would suggest that maybe our objectives in putting aside areas of the sea as reserves would be the careful management of our resources, which is going to lead to a maximum use of maximum utilisation, with the minimum amount of disruption for the environment.

There are more questions which spring to mind after having said that. The act has been found difficult to work within; it has been found restrictive; in fact only the type of reserve which it makes allowance for is a scientific-research-type of reserve.  The recreational benefits are, as a matter of fact, incidental and they are not really the aim - the primary aim of the act. And so what do we do? Do we amend the Act or do we write a new legislation? Perhaps we could even amend. We could even amend the other Acts.  I refer specifically to the other Reserves and Domains Act or even maybe the Harbours Act.  Further question is who is to administer the reserve, which we are going to create? If we think of scientific reserves, the two government departments, which spring to mind, are the Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry, possibly even the DSIR (Department of Science and Industrial Research) through their Oceanographic Institute. These are the two departments who have held the responsibility in New Zealand for marine research. If we think of recreational reserves, the obvious first department which springs to mind, is the Lands and Survey Department who have not only got the responsibility for the national parks system in New Zealand, but they also administer the two maritime parks.  The Hauraki Gulf and the Marlborough Sounds. There is a possibility that the Department of Tourism could be involved in a recreational type of reserve. There are other bodies which seem to have the expertise and the necessary experience to administer reserves and I refer specifically to Local Bodies, Regional Bodies and also local groups. There's no reason why reserves should be administered by a separate department either. They could be joint departments collectively administering and responsible for different types of reserves.

Whatever the legislation, there seems to be a need for a multiplicity of reserves with different objectives and whatever their administration, the aim should be the multiple use of reserves with multiple representation. I feel that our aim should a large number of reserve objectives, with a number of activities (or as much as possible going on within one reserve), without upsetting the environment. Departments that are being responsible will be led by government departments, with the full participation of local bodies and other local agencies.

I would like to end by thanking the committee of the first marine reserve, in giving me the opportunity to speak and I would like to wish them all the success in managing this first marine reserve in the future - one which I am sure is going to be looked up to for guidance in the setting up of further reserves.

LALY HADDON (Local Maori representative, speaking on behalf of the local residents): 

Mr Minister, distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen. I have been asked by the management committee of the marine reserve, about to be opened today, to speak on behalf of the local residence of this riding of which I have the privilege to represent. Dr Ballantine and the university of Auckland are to be congratulated on the birth of their new baby - the first New Zealand Marine Reserve. 

A birth that has taken many Doctors, over 10 years of much effort and even more manipulation, to accomplish. That it arrived after such a long period by somewhat magical and some slight of hand, is neither here nor there. It is here and we are here to celebrate its arrival. I would venture to say then, that without the initial support and co-operation of the people of this area the marine reserve would not be an accomplished fact. A very much larger fact than was indicated; that it is true more and in different ways as well; but a marine reserve is and that's a fact.  It is also an unfortunate fact that from a previous whole-hearted support of the marine reserve, local opposition to it is now such, that few if any of the local community felt able to accept their invitation to attend this opening.

I am of the opinion that without the active and willing co-operation of the local residents, the effective future of the reserve will be troubled. Because this public-relations [attitude] towards the marine reserve is so important, I propose to devote a few words to its causes. The feeling generated against the marine reserve over the last few years is not against the reserve as such, for all favoured it in its original form. But because every development connected with the reserve has been destructive, either because of the function of the reserve itself, or to the local population who supported it, that they have good reason for this view would be hard to dispute. For from the establishment of the research laboratory here when marine explosions killed all marine life over a substantial part the present reserve, sending water hundreds of feet into the air, to the present moment when the livelyhood of farmers over some thirty thousand acres of the Pakiri hinterland is threatened by moves to prohibit the use of fertilisers and herbicides in case of pollution of the reserve. The history leading up to the declaration of the reserve has a series of progressively destructives steps.  Explanations such as the complete destruction of sea life was necessary to reprofile the sea bed, blow up the Rodney Point Reef, to establish a sonar link with installations of the Mokohinau Islands and the good farming practice, can continue without fertiliser, are just not acceptable to the majority of local residents affected by these things.

The way objections under the law, by local residents were not even acknowledged by the ministry for 3 or 4 years and then only after the marine reserve had already been created. The putative nature of the reserve laws when an over-zealous ranger can not legally send a member to the klink for 3 months for turning up a pebble.  These things and many others are destructive to the main purpose of the marine reserve. More damaging perhaps to the existence of the reserve and the feeling in the areas supported by observable evidence, sophisticated aerial waves, radio repeater station on Pakiri Hill, statements by staff in the Laboratory and so on. That the main function of the scientific side of the marine reserve is the automatic transmission of sonar data via the satellite dish at Warkworth to the American Navy in Santiago to identify Russian submarines in the North Pacific.

In the interest of the community and the marine reserve harmony it is essential that the minister answers clearly the question that the people of this area are asking themselves: should they be deprived and penalised by this first reserve, in the interest of the requirements that have no bearing on the marine reserve itself? I have no doubt that giving a forthright answer to these questions by the minister, the residents of this area will once again support the proper principle of the marine reserve.  Thank you.

Thank you Mr Haddon. You have very distinctly versed the sentiments that I have heard from many locals in the few months that our committee has been formed and I am deeply sympathetic with a lot of the complaints. I can only hope the locals will, in time, accept the reserve, in fact be proud of it, as the first in the country and also perhaps look at the thing from a little higher up as a national and not just a local issue. It is no doubt at all that wherever reserves are set up, some locals will be upset.  Any way enough of that. It is now my very pleasant duty to call on the Minister of Fisheries - the Honorable Mr. Bolger to officially declare the reserve open.


MR BOLGER, the Minister of Fisheries 

Thank you Mr Chairman, previous speakers, ladies and gentlemen. It gives me a considerable pleasure to be here this afternoon, and Lew Ritchie, you made the right decision, it's raining outside so we are more comfortable inside. But to be associated with the official opening of this first Marine Reserve. I was interested in listening, as I know you all were, to the brief previous speakers, but I think in particular to the comments of Mr Haddon who has just preceded me.
 He posed, and I intend to deal with it immediately, he posed to me in his speech the question as to whether the local people should be deprived of their livelihood to pursue the establishment of a reserve. I can say quite categorically to him that it is not the intention of the Government to deprive anyone of their livelihood in creating any reserve; I can make that quite clear to him.  I think however I might digress from my notes for a moment. What he stated is that we take heed of when we get into the argument about speed of action; the need to get reserves established quickly; additional reserves on the statute books and the like, is the need to ensure that everyone is fully informed, everyone is au-fait with what the decision means and so that we do not lose, as Mr Haddon expressed here a few moments ago, the support of the local community. I must confess that I am disappointed to hear that this first reserve has lost at least some of the support of the local community as expressed by Mr Hadon. In his comment earlier I was anticipating there must have been an important reason for him being with us this afternoon for otherwise I'm sure he would have been in Whangarei watching the rugby [Mr Haddon is an ex-rugby national]. And I know you won't want me to speak too long because you want to get the whole circus over by 3pm ,so you can listen to the next Lions match. So however Mr Chairman I think it's correct that we can say New Zealand has a proud reputation in regard to the area of land that has been set aside for national parks, nature reserves, bird sanctuaries and the like, and it has been stated and I think it's correct, that on a per captia basis we have the greatest area of land in the world set aside for these purposes. I believe that it is now a sign of maturity and reflection of the increased awareness of things marine that has resulted in the establishment of this the first Marine Reserve. You are aware, all of you, that New Zealand is on the threshold of a new and exciting, if a little bit difficult, era in the development of our marine resources, when our 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) comes into effect. New Zealand will be responsible for the management of the forth largest ocean area in the world. The zone will encompass an area of one and quarter million nautical square miles or put another way, it is 14 times our land mass. And it is important when we contemplate that to remember that one of the major reasons behind the international desire of a world-wide law of the sea agreement, is the increasingly obvious need to carefully manage and conserve the world resources both living and non-living. The idea, Mr chairman, behind the establishment of the 200 mile zone is not, never has been, solely to allow the coastal states to increase their income.

A major obligation incumbent on the local stage of the coastal state is to manage the resource in such a way as to ensure it will not be destroyed. This is a heavy responsibility, but one which we in New Zealand accept and common sense of course, dictates that people in the best position to ensure that the waters of the world are not over-exploited, are coastal states such as New Zealand. For it is countries like ourselves who would suffer the greatest loss if there was long term indiscriminant over-exploitation of marine resources. But to devise a sound practical management plan for our marine resources, and here I am not talking just about additional area that will come into New Zealand's management control with the passage of legislation, (that's due in this week) but to devise a management plan for our resources, requires comprehensive knowledge of what those waters contain.

New Zealand is a small nation. We have limited resources available for marine research or in other areas of research where we feel additional effort is required. And there is no doubt that research effort in the marine field will increase, as it has over recent years. But at the moment and also in the future it means that all research must be important and it should be relevant. One must make the most of research capability we have and likewise, and this is important, likewise it is vital that the knowledge and understanding gained by the people working the reserve is disseminated to as wide an audience as possible and that clearly includes an area such as this the local communities so that they have an appreciation of what is going on and why it is going on and I don't think it's looking for submarines in the North Pacific (it might be).

Over the last few years, Mr Chairman, we learned a great deal about our undersea world but we need to know more if we are to properly manage our fishing resource. Again this not applies to the extremity of the 200 mile zone; it also pertains to the fish within the existing 12 mile zone - closer still. Parliament as some of you will be aware of, is currently studying legislation, which will declare six fisheries licences, namely rock lobsters, paua, dredge oysters, scallops, eels and mussels as controlled fisheries, as licensed fisheries. When this legislation is enacted it will mean that the Minister of Fisheries will require scientific advice as to the level of fishing pressure that the each fishery can sustain so as to determine how many licences should be be issued and what conditions should be attached to them. Now I can only assume - and I think I assume correctly - I'm sure that the research undertaken at the reserve we are going to declare open today, will assist to expand our knowledge in this field, to expand our knowledge of the inshore marine environment. I'm impressed to note that there are over 40 projects currently underway here at the present time.

Often when we talk about our fishing resource, our marine resource, we forget one of the industry's major sectors or one of the major interest groups, and I refer here of course, to the amateur fishermen. New Zealand has often been referred to as a nation of farmers and a nation of civil servants, or shop keepers. But increasingly and particularly in the northern part of the North Island, we have become a nation of boat owners and there is a big number of New Zealanders who fish at least once or twice a year and an increasing number who fish on a pleasure basis on many more occasions than that. So our inshore waters come under and increasing pressure from amateur fishermen, increasing the conflict between commercial fishermen and his amateur counterpart. And I hope that some of the information that we will get out of the research that is currently going on, will enable us to resolve some of these conflicts with solutions based on scientific data rather than guestimates. I must admit, Mr Chairman, I think I expressed to over lunch that one of the difficulties I found going around is that research findings are accepted when they concur with local opinion they're usually rejected when they're not, but that is one of the difficulties we have to, I think, think our way through and educate our way through. The reserve, however, I want to restate has not been set up for the sole purpose of creating a scientific, field research, study area. It is here to provide means of increasing our awareness of what goes on in the seas around us and when I say 'us' I don't mean just the scientific fraternity alone.  I mean everyone. Scientist, fisherman and the average man in the street who is interested.

A reserve such as this will provide the knowledge nessessary to develop sufficient and adequate management plans. The basing of management plans on scientific data places a heavy burden of responsibility on those involved in marine research. But I can say quite openly that if the enthusiasm and ability shown by researchers that a I met, and I certainly don't claim to have met them all, but that have met since my becoming Minister of Fisheries - If this is anything to go by - I can only assume that they will discharge their responsibility sensibly and in a practical and in a responsible manner. The many decisions required to make this marine reserve a reality have not been made lightly, it's the first to be established in New Zealand and as such represents a new concept in the research and management of our coastal waters. New concepts are never easy to implement - and again I refer back to some the difficulties we've had in our enunciator here this afternoon - in a short space of time. So I don't intend to excuse the delay and I can understand the frustration that some have felt in the time scale necessary to get this reserve established. I have also noted the constant theme through earlier speeches that we should move quickly in amending the Marine Reserves Act to allow for some greater flexibility to cope with different types of reserves and all I can say is that I am moving that legislation along as quickly as possible and I think that what we are finding as we get into applying legislation to practical situations, that alternatives have to be found and amendments to legislation made. And again this delays, which we don't like, but it tends to delay some of the quite reasonable desires of the scientific community and others, to make progress in the field of conservation. I'm pleased that, despite some local concern, the reserve committee has a distinctly local flavor, with the five man committee comprising of a representative, quite understandably, from Auckland University, two local county councilors, local representative of New Zealand Underwater Association and chaired by the regional fisheries officer, and I believe that this concept of having local involvement must assist in getting public acceptance and public understanding of the reason for the reserve and why restrictions are necessary in some areas. And I'm sure myself that the fears expressed by those critical to the establishment of the reserve will in the main prove groundless.

Now regulation to the reserve will not be affected. The riparian rights of local land owners will in no way change. The only significant change is that fishing and the willful destruction or interference with marine life in the reserve will be prohibited. Now as a non-scientific person I can see little alternative to that, if the reserve is to fulfill its purpose. I would also remind those who feel that the marine reserve is over-protective to the marine life, that there are even harsher restrictions placed on the public, with regard to some of the flora and fauna reserve in some parts of New Zealand  ...............  [tape change over] ..................... we have to give something away now. I hope and I believe that the plan for this reserve is a reasonable and fair compromise. In spite of the restriction on fishing, the reserve will - I'm sure - be visited and used by many. Reserve status will preserve and protect the flora and fauna of the area in as natural a state as possible. It will become, where you can't see fish, - I'm sure - a haven for anyone wishing to see marine life forms in their natural environment and will provide scientific information vital to the national and beneficial development of our inshore waters.

The reserve, Mr Chairman, is now a reality. I personally commend all those people who had the foresight and undoubtly the perseverance to see the need for such a reserve and to carry their idea through to its fruitful conclusion. I have no doubt that with the co-operation of all interested parties of this marine reserve will be of very real benefit to the continued wellbeing of our marine life. New Zealand and New Zealanders can be justly proud of this reserve and I have great pleasure, Mr Chairman, in declaring it officially open, wishing it well and wishing those who are associated with if fruitful scientific experience and those who are associated with it because of their habitation in the locality, the benefits and the advantages of the scientific community working amongst it.  Thank you

Thank you very much Minister. At this stage of proceedings, I would certainly like to thank all the speakers; first and foremost I think we are going to move onto a slide show from Dr Tony Ayling of the Leigh Laboratory shortly - not right away. I think it would be a good idea if everyone here would move around a bit and had a chat - perhaps about marine reserves for a while and we will keep you informed in a few minutes as to what is happening.

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