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3 Significant Resource Management Issues, Objectives, Policies and Methods
The natural character and associated values of the coastal environment of Waikato make an important contribution to the Region's uniqueness. Features such as: the habitats of indigenous flora and fauna; coastal landscapes and seascapes; sites of spiritual or cultural significance; and significant historic places or areas all add to the special value of the coastal environment.
Natural character is1 the quality of the coastal environment that, when considered together give the coast of New Zealand recognisable character. These qualities may be ecological, physical, spiritual, cultural or aesthetic in nature, and include both modified and pristine environments. Inappropriate subdivision, use and development of the coastal environment can result in the degradation of natural character.
The coastal environment also provides a wide range of recreational opportunities. People’s enjoyment of the coast depends on access, as well as the opportunity to enjoy its landscape and wilderness values. New Zealanders have a tradition of unquestioned access to and use of the coast as a public resource. However, there is often a conflict between demand for access to and along the coastal marine area, and the need to restrict access for conservation, safety, security or defence purposes.
In addition to these values, coastal resources also have social and economic values. For example, fin fish, shell fish, crustaceans, seaweed and plankton, are all harvested commercially. The sea also provides the opportunity for marine farming (e.g. oyster and mussel farms)2.
It should be noted that there are a number of organisations carrying out different functions within the coastal environment. Such organisations include the Department (and Minister) of Conservation, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Maritime Safety Authority, regional and district councils. Because the coastal environment is one where the effects of any activity can be transferred to other locations, decisions made by any of these organisations can affect resources, and other parts of the coast, managed by other organisations. Inconsistent management of resources both within and between organisations may result in failure to consider the interconnected nature of coastal processes and result in unforeseen adverse effects.
The coastal environment and its resources are of great cultural, spiritual and economic value to tangata whenua. The coast has ancestral ties with the early Tainui settlement of surrounding land, and many areas are considered to be sacred. Mana whenua groups of Tainui regard themselves as kaitiaki of the west coast, its harbours and the linking water systems which are traditional fisheries of Tainui.
On the east coast, coastal resources and fishing matters are at the heart of Hauraki Iwi. The productivity of the coastal environment and water quality are highly valued, and the iwi and hapu who are kaitiaki have a responsibility to nurture and safeguard these values for future generations.
The stewardship which is part of kaitiakitanga is reflected in customary practices and rules such as rotational or seasonal harvesting, collection techniques aimed at preserving the natural state of fisheries, the use of a rahui (prohibition) on seafood gathering to prevent over-exploitation, restrictions on gutting and shelling seafood below the high tide marks, and the avoidance of contamination of the coastal environment from human and animal wastes3.
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- See glossary for definition of natural character.
- It should be noted that Fisheries Act functions, including the management, conservation, protection and allocation of fishing rights to Maori, are not part of the provisions of the RMA.
- See also section 2.1 (tangata whenua).