A group working to protect the Kaikoura coastline and marine life has handed its proposals to Environment Minister Amy Adams.
Coastal guardian group Te Korowai o Te Tai o Marokura presented its strategy, Sustaining Our Sea, to Ms Adams at Takahanga Marae, in Kaikoura, on Saturday.
Te Korowai's progress is being closely watched by people who want to develop an independent management plan for the Marlborough Sounds.
Its strategy aims to better protect the coast and includes a marine reserve and rahui areas. It also looks at catch limits as well as fish-stock reseeding efforts.
The launch on Saturday was a major affair, with Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson, Kaikoura MP Colin King, Green Party list MP Steffan Browning and Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene also among guests.
Te Runanga o Kaikoura kaiwhakahaere and Te Korowai member Mark Solomon said the collaboration had been a "magnificent expression of community".
His uncle, Bill Solomon, had raised the idea in the late 1990s of the community developing a strategy for the coastline.
He and other kaumatua had grown concerned about the disrespect being shown for the Kaikoura coast, with continued threat from poachers and blackmarketeers.
"As we grew older, we became increasingly aware that our coast was no longer as plentiful as we remembered when we were kids, so we felt compelled to do something so that our children, our mokopuna, could enjoy the wonders and fruits of Tangaroa as we had."
Te Korowai was formed seven years ago and he was proud to have been a part of the community process, he said.
Te Korowai chairman Larnce Wichman acknowledged the difficulties its members had overcome, not least of which was sorting out the onshore boundary of the proposed marine reserve.
Discussions had resulted in the proposal of the biggest marine reserve connecting to mainland New Zealand along the shortest coastline length possible.
"Not everyone will be happy with this approach but we believe, if we talked another seven years, the result would be the same and, if this is not implemented, another generation will lose the opportunity to protect this internationally important area."
Special legislation might be required to make the strategy work, he said. This made some officials nervous, but he urged Government ministers not to delay or the momentum would be lost.
Ms Wilkinson said it was good to see Parliament represented across the parties on Saturday, as the issues raised in the strategy were too important to be divided along party lines.
The region was "environmentally unique", she said. There was a global responsibility to get it right because Kaikoura was world-renowned for its marine environment.
Te Korowai was made up of representatives from many sectors, including commercial and recreational fishermen, iwi and community members, the Conservation Department, and Forest & Bird.
The group reached its decisions by consensus, following the philosophy of gifts and gains, or compromise for the greater good, a process that had taken seven years and was by no means easy.
Ms Adams, receiving the strategy on behalf of the Government, acknowledged the many thousands of hours of hard work.
Copies of the completed strategy, Sustaining Our Sea, are available at fishnet.co.nz/teamkorowai.
- The Marlborough Express