History of the Aquaculture Settlement

Well before European settlement, Maori practiced local forms of stock translocation.  Particular species included paua, toheroa, oysters, other shellfish and eels.  The recorded history of aquaculture in New Zealand goes back as far as the early 1900s.  However, industrial-scale aquaculture has only occurred in the last 50 years. 

By the late 1990’s, it became clear that the legislation for planning and approving marine farms could not cope with the growth of New Zealand’s aquaculture industry.  In 1998, the government began reviewing the law and in 2001, they proposed a new regime which would more clearly restrict the places where aquaculture can be conducted.  This meant that aquaculture would only be able to take place within Aquaculture Management Areas (AMAs) defined by regional councils under the Resource Management Act 1991.

However, a number of iwi organisations sought and won a declaration in the Waitangi Tribunal that these changes would breach the Treaty of Waitangi in 2002. The Tribunal suggested further consultation between the Crown and Maori was needed to work out what should be done to ensure Treaty interests were adequately provided for.  The Tribunal published its findings in a report entitled ‘Ahu Moana:  The Aquaculture and Marine Farming Report’ – Report WAI 953.

The Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act was passed in 2004 as the Crown’s response to the claim.  The Act subsequently was amended in 2011 during reform of the aquaculture legislation.


Aquaculture Deed of Settlement for pre-commencement aquaculture space between iwi and the Crown on the 6th May 2009