Area Management Tools (AMTs)

Taiāpure, mātaitai, and temporary closures are the main Area Management Tools (AMTs) available to Tangata Whenua to help them sustainably manage traditional customary fishing grounds.

Mātaitai, taiāpure and temporary closures are potentially powerful tools to ensure sustainability because communities can use their local knowledge to adapt fishing rules to local ecological and social pressures. Such adaptation is less likely to happen in a national ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, or where regulations are set over vast areas of New Zealand’s coast. These AMTs are also splendid examples of ‘bottom-up’ approaches to conservation that contrast the ‘top-down’ approaches predominating the Ministry for Primary Industries and The Department of Conservation.

Temporary closures (or Section 186 Closures) impose a temporary ban on harvesting species or a temporary restriction on certain fishing methods. The goal of temporary closures is to help restore depleted stocks; these are different from Marine Reserves, which are permanent ‘no-take’ zones.

Taiāpure and mātaitai are permanent fishery protection areas that are established in areas, taiāpure and mātaitai are established through application by Tangata Whenua to the Minister for Primary Industries and provide a tool that can allow local management of fisheries.

Taiāpure are established “in relation to areas of New Zealand fisheries waters (being estuarine or littoral coastal waters) that have customarily been of special significance to any iwi or hapū either – (a) as a source of food; or (b) for spiritual or cultural reasons” (Fisheries Act 1996).  Taiāpure allow for commercial and non-commercial fishing to occur.  Taiāpure management committees are made up of members from local iwi or hapū and often commercial and recreational fishers as well as other interested parties (e.g. scientists, environmental groups). The committee can recommend regulations to the Minister of Fisheries and the regulations can only be made with respect to fishing, or fishing related activities within the taiāpure. Getting a regulation (e.g. new bag or size limit, closure) in place can be a slow process with up to 18 months passing between application and establishment in some cases.

Mātaitai are established “on a traditional fishing ground for the purpose of recognising and providing for customary management practices and food gathering” (Kaimoana Customary Fishing Regulations 1998). The primary difference between mātaitai and a taiāpure is that within mātaitai commercial fishing is prohibited, mātaitai can be established in freshwater and that management committees can recommend bylaws to be approved by the Minister of Fisheries.  The process of passing a bylaw is far shorter than a regulation, making the mātaitai a better model than a taiāpure for allowing a rapid response to issues that arise surrounding fishery sustainability.

The managers of the taiāpure and mātaitai reach their sustainability goals by passing local fishing rules, through advocacy and education, by guiding and conducting research and through involvement in other processes within the Fisheries and Resource Management Acts.


Taiāpure are often managed in collaboration with local fishing stakeholders (recreational and commercial fishers). Commercial fishing continues, but may be subject to taiāpure rules. Taiāpure can only be applied to marine and estuarine environments.
The Taiāpure mechanism was created under the Māori Fisheries Act 1989. The intent of the Act was to make better provisions for Tangata Whenua to exercise rangitiratanga (chieftainship) and their rights associated with fisheries management, as stated in Treaty of Waitangi Article 2.

A primary objective of Taiāpure is to ensure access to abundant and safe kai moana but often more general objectives to protect mauri and wairua (local environment and people) emerge along the way.

  • Palliser Bay (Southern Wairarapa), est. 1995. 3 km2.
  • Waikare Inlet (Northland) est 1998 18 km2
  • Kawhia Aotea (Waikato) est. 2000 162 km2
  • Maketu (Bay of Plenty) est. 1996 54 km2
  • Porangahau (Hawke’s Bay) est. 1997 61 km2
  • Palliser Bay (Wellington) est. 1995 3 km2
  • Whakapuaka (Delaware Bay) (Nelson) est 2002 25km2
  • Te Taumanu o Te Waka a Māui (Kaikōura) est 2014 7km2
  • Oaro-Haumuri (Kaikōura) est 2014 6km2
  • Akaroa Harbour (banks Peninsula) est 2006 43 km2
  • East Otago (North Otago) est. 1999 25 km2


Mātaitai can be constituted and run entirely by Tangata Whenua, though in practice other interest groups often co-manage these areas. Commercial fishing is normally excluded from mātaitai reserves. Mātaitai may be established in lakes, rivers, estuaries and coastal areas.

The mātaitai tool was created under the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Claims Settlement Act 1992 (better known as the “Sealord’s Deal”). However, mātaitai could not be established until the South Island Customary Fishing Regulations and the Kaimoana Fishing Regulations (applying to North Island and the Chatham Islands) were announced in 1998. In recognition of the Crown’s misappropriation of fish that belonged to Tangata Whenua before the imposition of the Quota Management System (QMS), Tangata Whenua received cash compensation and ownership of some commercial fishing companies and a promise of 20% of any new quota as species are entered into the QMS. Customary non-commercial fishing was therefore to be protected by the establishment of customary fishing regulations, including mātaitai reserves.

Mātaitai allow Tangata Tiaki (Māori fisheries guardians) to be nominated by Tangata Whenua and appointed by the Minister of Fisheries. These guardians are usually Tangata Whenua and have rights to establish bylaws to exercise kaitiakitanga. The Minister retains limited discretion on approving bylaws for sustainability. Bylaws only apply to customary and recreational fishing, and commercial fishing is typically banned within the mātaitai reserve itself.

Established Mātaitai Reserves:

  • Rapaki Bay (Lyttelton Harbour), est. 1998. 0.3 km2.
  • Koukourarata (Banks Peninsula), est. 2000. 8 km2.
  • Te Whaka ā te Wera (Rakiura – Stewart Island), est. 2004. 79 km2.
  • Moremore (Hawkes Bay), est. 2005. 22.5 km2.
  • Mataura River (Southland), est. 2005. 10 km of the river.
  • Raukokore (East Cape), est. 2005. 19 km2.
  • Motupohue Mātaitai (Southland) est. 2014. 7.3 km2
  • Mataura Mātaitai (Southland) 0.8 km2 (Freshwater)
  • Opihi Mātaitai (South Canterbury) 23.0 km2 (Marine/Freshwater)
  • Waitarakao Mātaitai 0.9 km2 (Marine/Freshwater)
  • Moremore Mātaitai (a) (Hawkes Bay) est. 2005 11.2 km2
  • Moremore Mātaitai (b) (Hawkes Bay) est. 2005 4.6 km2
  • Raukokere Mātaitai 26.5 km2
  • Puna-wai-Toriki Mātaitai 2.4 km2
  • Aotea Harbour Mātaitai Waikato) est. 2008.40.1 km2
  • Marokopa Mātaitai (Waikato) est. 2011. 67.9 km2
  • Hakihea Mātaitai (Gisborne) est. 2011. 4.1 km2
  • Moeraki Mātaitai (North Otago) est. 2010. 2.9 km2
  • Waikawa Tumu Toka Mātaitai (Southland/Catlins) 7.1 km2 (Marine/Freshwater)
  • Oreti Mātaitai (Southland) 16.4 km2
  • Horomamae Mātaitai 0.2 km2
  • Te Tai Tapu (Anatori) Mātaitai (West Coast, South Island) 14.6 km2
  • Te Tai Tapu (Kaihoka) Mātaitai (West Coast, South Island) 5.1 km2
  • Wairewa Mātaitai 5.7 km2(Marine/Freshwater)
  • Te Kaio Mātaitai 12.2 km2
  • Pikomamaku Mātaitai (Foveaux Strait). 0.05 km2
  • Te Maunga o Mauao Mātaitai 6.9 km2
  • Kaihuka Mātaitai 0.1 km2
  • Mahitahi Mātaitai 1.1 km2
  • Tauperikaka Mātaitai 0.6 km2
  • Okuru Mātaitai (West Coast, South Island) 0.2 km2
  • Manakaiaua Mātaitai 0.7 km2
  • Horokaka Mātaitai 4.1 km2 (Mahia Peninsula) est. 2012. 2.9 km2
  • Te Hoe Mātaitai 14.5 km2 (Mahia Peninsula) est. 2012. 2.9 km2
  • Toka Tamure Mātaitai (Mahia Peninsula) est. 2012. 2.9 km2
  • Waihao Wainono Mātaitai 4.7 km2 (Marine/Freshwater)
  • Okarito Mātaitai 19.5 km2 (West Coast, South Island) (Marine/Freshwater)
  • Te Puna Mātaitai (Bay of Islands) est. 2013. 21.9 km2
  • Waitutu Mātaitai (Fiordland) est. 2015 2.1 km2
  • Te Waha o te Marangai Mātaitai 0.02 km2
  • Mangamaunu Mātaitai 0.02 km2
  • Oaro Mātaitai 0.2 km2

Temporary closures

Section 186B of the Fisheries Act 1996 allows the Ministry of Fisheries to temporarily close a fishery, or restrict a method of fishing in lakes, rivers, estuaries, and the sea. These closures and restrictions are the traditional Māori approach to sustain a fishery. The purpose of the closure or restriction is to improve the size and/or availability of fish stocks that have been depleted, or to recognize and provide for the use and management practices of Tāngata Whenua.

Anybody can suggest to the Ministry of Fisheries that a temporary closure should be put in place, but the Ministry must allow participation of Tāngata Whenua when assessing a proposal.

Temporary closures or method restrictions can be applied for a period of two years or less. If the objectives have not been achieved over such a period, Tāngata Whenua can apply for an extension of the temporary closure. However, it is unlikely that several successive rotations will be implemented; instead, a move to establish a mātaitai is probably needed.
Temporary closures or method restrictions apply to everyone: commercial, recreational and customary fishers.

AMT resources

List and maps of current Mātaitai and Taiāpure from MPI

Download the Area Management Tool guidebook (PDF, 1 MB)
Download the Area Management Tool pamphlet (PDF, 1.6MB)
Mataitai and Taiapure applications (to July 2007), by Ministry of Fisheries (PDF, 100KB)

* Attach the formal regulations for mātaitai for North Island and South Island.


Chris Hepburn, Marine Sciences Department, University of Otago
Office: 310 Castle Street, Room 144  |  Tel: 64 3 479 7462  |  Email: