Your Group and Vision

 dr seuss loraxYou can do it.............................

No one can argue with history that shows creating an effective network of marine reserves in New Zealand is a challenging task and is taking decades to achieve. But one can also argue that the need for marine reserves is urgent and that the benefits will be great. History tells us that individuals and community groups can make a difference in conservation. It is happening on land all over New Zealand and it has been done in the sea. 

A crucial part of forming a vision of action for you and your group locally or regionally involves gaining some understanding of what isn't working currently and then proceeding with your own positive vision of how to turn this inaction into success for your area and community. 

Funding Your Project

emr motukaroro2Northland students celebrate the opening of the Whangarei Harbour Marine reserveFunding your group or project is always a challenge, but the good news is that the non-profit charitable sector is growing all the time and the funding base likewise is growing. So dive in and make a start by finding out who is doing what in New Zealand to support groups and projects like yours. It is often challenging for groups to get there first funding application accepted as they usually have no past background of results and successful management. However, a number of funding organisations take this into account so it is just one criterion that you need to investigate along with the others that vary from funder to funder. The game is to understand all this and be able to demonstrate that you can manage all aspects of the project well and achieve results that are significant to the funder and yourself. 

Setting a Timeline

GH1 Marine reserve cartoon adjusted 600pixThe need to manage time in a project like this is great. You only have so much to get your chosen goal line. Thinking about this and making a plan is essential whether your goal is a marine reserve application, or preparing a proposal for marine protection to become part of a regional forum process. Always remember that support for your proposal is something you will be working hard to build over time. Once you gain credibility, support, enthusiasm and trust in your community it is important to keep it going. Delays can kill positive momentum, so planning is vital. 

Working With Your Community

darryl torckler PK 15 5EMR students at the Poor Knights Islands marine reserve, photo by Darryl Torckler

In this important section of the How to Kit we look at experience and best practice for working with the following sections of your community:

The Broader Community - Socio-economic Research

Tangata Whenua, Tangata Moana

Recreational Fishers

Commercial Fishers

Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI)

Department of Conservation (DoC)

Resources supporting these topics can be found and downloaded from our Library folder Social Science & Community Engagement

Preparing a Proposal

mimiwhangata proposalAs information gathering, investigations and informal consultation activities progress, your campaign will reach a point where it is time for communication with the community to be stepped up in the form of some sort of publicly distributed document. This is a vital part of the pre-statutory consultation process. These documents can be an effective way to advance all campaign objectives, including information gathering and communication of concepts and information to the community and importantly engaging people you have not reached or involved yet. The documents also serve the purpose of putting officials and the community on notice that you are serious about what you are doing.

In our Library we have a download page with a collection of past marine reserve and proposals and discussion documents.

The Formal Application

KHS applicatonThe application process under the Marine Reserves Act must be strictly followed. If the process is not followed, the application will become bogged down in bureaucratic red tape or legal challenge. This is the part of your project that all your work is building towards; the preparation of a statutory document on which the success or failure of your campaign will turn. 

The guide that follows addresses the requirements of the Marine Reserves Act, which at the time of writing is the governing legislation. We also discuss strategies to prepare a proposal for a marine protection forum.


Ok you are busy forming a vision of what you want to do for the sea. First up, we have a strategic challenge to deal with:

1) Do we wait for a marine protection forum process for our Region?EMR project Tim Balo TaranakiEMR project Tim Balo Taranaki

2) Do we prepare information and proposals for a future MPA forum process?

3) Do we form a group to work with our community to prepare a Marine Reserve Application and apply for a Marine Reserve under the current Marine Reserves Act? 

No one can advise you on which direction to focus your energy. Here in New Zealand we are going through the long and tricky process of creating a viable network of fully protected marine areas. There has been progress offshore, but in coastal New Zealand waters we have slowed. So here is our recommendation:

Information Gathering and Your Area

drop videoA simple homemade drop video camera systemTo anyone first considering creating a marine reserve, the task of deciding what information is required and how you will obtain it is a daunting one. There are two hurdles to understand. Once understood, you can plot your course through them:

➢ The ocean is vast, dynamic with huge natural variations, largely unstudied, and often a difficult place logistically to study and gather information about. We can't know everything about it, and that's OK as we don't need to know everything in order to act on marine conservation.

➢ The legislative requirements in some cases are clear and specific, but in most cases are vague and in the end must be quite subjectively interpreted by DoC and ultimately the Ministers of Transport, Fisheries and Conservation.

We suggest that you plan your information gathering process by first looking at the end of the process to get as clear as possible picture of what you will strive to assemble. The information gathering process suggested here is modeled on arriving at all you need to succeed with a marine reserve application, however a great deal of it would be very useful to support, design and promote a proposal in the context of a marine protection forum.


First Round of Consultation

emr4A happy and proud dad at an EMR eventThe ultimate aim of a marine reserve project is the establishment of a marine reserve resulting from a process where the community has increased its awareness of marine conservation and grown to support the reserve proposal. Community support for marine reserves is fundamental to the success of any one reserve. Marine reserves depend on a very high level of compliance and this can only be achieved with the support and full involvement of the local people. The legislation which creates marine reserves (currently the Marine Reserves Act 1971) requires that all members of the local community who are affected by a marine reserve are informed of the proposal and consulted.

This page covers some key points to cover prior to embarking on this project. More specific detail looking at working with specific groups within your community and introducing background resources is found on our Working With Your Community page.


The Treaty of Waitangi and Marine Reserves

The Treaty of Waitangi is part of the fabric of New Zealand constitutional law. The general partnership that it establishes between Crown and Iwi in terms of the governance of this country should be reflected in every government action.kaumatua webMimiwhangata Kaumatua Houpeke Piripi calling for rahui

This section provides an overview of the legislative relationship between marine reserves and the Treaty of Waitangi. Other important aspects of working with Hapu Iwi can be found on the following pages:

Working With Your Community Library; Traditional Management (collection of background papers), Case Studies (various examples of Iwi Hapu involvement in marine protection and the issues), Supporting Customary management because the

Designing a Marine Reserve

Mimiwhangata habitats posterMimiwhangata Habitats poster (Kerr & Grace 2005)

This crucial area of marine conservation attracts much debate and unfortunately sometimes uninformed opinion from people opposing marine reserves. It is important to review some of the extensive literature on this subject and to summarise the principles of design for yourself. This will enable you to clearly explain to anyone what things are being considered in the design of your marine reserve. We urge your group to be clear in your own minds what the goal is for your design project. To formulate your goal in practical terms, it may help to review the various sources referred to in this section on the principles of marine reserves. Checking your goal against IUCN CBD Technical Series #13 is also a good idea. Experience has shown both here in New Zealand and overseas when design groups fail to reach an understanding of the goal for what the size and extent of the reserve or reserves should be, results often disappoint. Frequently in the absence of an agreed goal, other agendas take over the process. 

Application Consultation Period

kids adults group shotEMR event at the Poor Knights Marine Reserve The notification of a marine reserve application begins a statutory two month period of public consultation. During this period you have the opportunity to be highly visible in the media, to run meetings, meet with interested parties, assist people in understanding the application, respond to objections and concerns, and win support in the form of submissions. 

Before beginning this crucial period, it is important to have a carefully prepared communication plan: who will do what tasks, how will you work with media, what information will you have ready, what meetings will you attend or host, and who do you need to engage with that you have not already reached.

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