John Key unworried about legal action over Kermadec ocean sanctuary plans
Prime Minister John Key has shrugged off a legal challenge that could sink plans for the Kermadec ocean sanctuary, saying he stands by the Government's plans.
Te Ohu Kaimoana, the Maori Fisheries Trust, has filed proceedings at the High Court in Wellington to prevent the Government establishing the Kermadec ocean sanctuary, north-east of New Zealand.
The sanctuary, announced by Key in a headline-grabbing speech to the United Nations, would close off 620,000 square kilometres to fishing and mining.
But Te Ohu Kaimoana (TOKM) chairman Jamie Tuuta said the proposal rode roughshod over Maori interests, and did not consider the Crown's 1992 fisheries settlement with Maori.
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Key said the trust was "certainly free" to test their legal rights, but he was comfortable with the Government's position.
"There hasn't been fish caught there for a decade, they are migratory species, we believe they can be caught in other places.
"We have our own legal reasons why we think we've backed it appropriately: Parliament is ultimately sovereign and as you know, it was a unanimous vote in support in favour of the first reading, so let's see how it goes."
While he was not taking Parliament's backing for granted at later stages, Key believed there was "overwhelming support for what is a really important step I think from an environmental perspective".
He did not believe iwi had been consulted before the decision, saying: "I'd be surprised if there was [consultation]."