James Shaw says Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary 'still on the table'

New Zealand's groundbreaking ocean sanctuary is not off the table, according to Green Party leader James Shaw.

Mr Shaw told RadioLIVE Your Sunday host Ryan Bridge the party is as committed to the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary as it always has been, alluding to an arrangement with Labour protecting the initiative. 

"I know that in our agreement with the Labour Party there is an agreement around that.

"You're going to have to wait and see what's in the arrangement when Jacinda [Ardern, Labour leader] releases them next week." 

A New Zealand First spokesperson said people would have to wait until Tuesday to find out what the agreement included. 

On Sunday morning, Fairfax reported the sanctuary had been blocked by Winston Peters and NZ First in a deal that caught the Greens unaware.

But Mr Shaw says that's incorrect.

"It's certainly still on the table," he said.

"Obviously there are issues to work through, it is a complicated issue, but we are still committed to doing our best effort to making sure that it happens."

The Labour Party said its intention is to work alongside Māori and use their best endeavours to achieve the Kermadec Sanctuary.

"We will be seeking consensus and agreement with our support parties to find a resolution," Labour said in a statement. 

The 620,000 sq km Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, announced by Sir John Key at the United Nations in 2015, attracted major attention from conservationists around the world and passed its first reading in Parliament unopposed.

However, iwi filed legal action against it, saying it would deny them fishing rights agreed in Treaty settlements.

Fishing companies have also been opposed. Many of New Zealand First's senior MPs have close links with the fishing industry, and stopping the sanctuary was considered a high priority for the party. 

As part of Labour's coalition with NZ First, Fairfax reported Jacinda Ardern agreed her Government wouldn't go ahead with the sanctuary in this three-year Parliamentary term.

Mr Shaw disputes this, but acknowledged the sanctuary's issues regarding Te Tiriti.

"We absolutely need to work alongside Māori to make sure it happens," he said.

"That was the big mistake that [former Environment Minister] Nick Smith made when he and John Key rushed it through - they didn't consult and engage some of the primary stakeholders in it."

In 2015, Sir John promised the sanctuary would "be one of the world's largest and most significant fully-protected areas, preserving important habitats for seabirds, whales and dolphins, endangered marine turtles and thousands of species of fish and other marine life".

The legislation to establish the sanctuary was initially introduced by Green MP Gareth Hughes. 

Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage on Saturday told Fairfax she was unaware of the agreement.

"We have yet to see the coalition agreement between Labour and NZ First," she said. "I'm not going to comment on speculation and rumour."