Members of Ngāti Kahu iwi threaten to stop annual Northland fishing competition, block boat ramps

Some members of Far North iwi Ngāti Kahu say they are putting a stop to Doubtless Bay's annual fishing competition and plan to block four boat ramps.  

The 40-year-old competition, otherwise known as the Fishing Classic, often attracts around 500 people. This year's event, scheduled for January 27 and 28, will see entrants competing for an advertised prize pool to the value of $30,000.

Ngāti Kahu representative Wikatana Popata spoke with Newshub about actions some members of the iwi will be taking.

"Our plan is to block off all access points to our moana," Popata told Newshub.

"All our moana within our tribal territories, and to put a stop to this annual fishing competition in our area.

"For years now, these community members have disrespected our Ngāti Kahu. They have never bothered to include us. They never bothered to consult Ngāti Kahu in any way."

In a social media post, shared by members of the iwi to Facebook community pages, they said the action was meant to send a message to the participants of the competition and also the Government for its plans to "abolish Te Tiriti".

"It's time that Ngāti Kahu puts its foot down, and say 'that's enough'."

He said annual events, such as the fishing competition, have also been contributing to the decrease of big snapper and kaimoana in the area.

"It doesn't benefit the environment, it doesn't benefit our moana, so it's time that we start to do things about all of these events happening in our area," Popata stressed.  

However runanga chairperson Margaret Mutu said Popata doesn't speak for the whole iwi.

"This is a matter that Ngāti Kahu is aware of but we are yet to have discussions, especially with the organisers of the competition."

Event organiser Nick Ryan said the event is approved through the Ministry for Primary Industries and adheres to fishing regulations.

He also said it's a charitable event and the fish caught in the competition is auctioned off with profits going to the local community.

"The whole family goes away smiling. That's a good thing. Stop stepping on it for political gain, guys."

Police have released a statement saying they'll be engaging with event organisers and making enquiries with those who have expressed concerns, as well as with the local iwi.

"Our Far North staff will be monitoring the event and will respond to any issues as required."

Popata, meanwhile, has made a call to action: "I encourage all Māori to intensify our struggle on all fronts, to remind this New Zealand Government and its community members that Māori have ultimate authority over all our lands and seas."

He said it's going to take "someone with guts to say what's been going on over these past years hasn't been good".

Popata added all the boat ramps used in the fishing competition sit on Māori land.

"We have been lenient this whole time, we have been good to our community members, but they turn around and shit on us and don't bother to consult us or include us in anything," Popata told Newshub.