On 9 March 1992, members of the Kati Huirapa Runaka ki Puketeraki applied for a taiapure (local fishery) on the East Otago coastline. Taiapure were, at that time, the only tool available for hapu to manage their customary fisheries. Kaumatua of Kati Huirapa ki Puketeraki were concerned over depleting paua stocks within their rohe and wanted a way to be able to reassert their rangatiratanga for their present and future generations to ensure the maintenance of health and well-being.
The application resulted in a backlash from a number of sectors in the East Otago community and angry locals expressed their displeasure particularly through Letters to the Editor, in the Otago Daily Times. The letters reflected a view that Maori would be locking people out of the fisheries and decisions were being made along 'racial lines' that pitted people 'Iwi versus Kiwi'. Literally overnight, the taiapure application divided the community.
After a long drawn-out process of over seven years, which included a Maori Land hearing, numerous hui, public meetings and national political changes, the East Otago Taiapure was gazetted in 1999. The management committee for the East Otago Taiapure was then established formally in 2001. Two series of regulations have been passed by the East Otago Taiapure Management Committee (EOTMC): the first for set netting on 1 October 2007 and; the second for a temporary closure and reduction in bag limits for finfish and shellfish on 1 October 2010.
The current members of the EOTMC are Brendan Flack , Khyla Russell, Kathy Coombes, Ron McLachlan,Georgia-Rae Flack (Kāti Huirapa reps), Chris Hepburn (Otago University), Patti Vanderburg and P J Clarke (community). We acknowledge the hard work of all past and present committee members and supporters.
One particular issue the EOTMC and supporters have worked tirelessly on is the Port Otago Next Generation dredging programme. The aim of Project Next Generation is to widen and deepen the Otago Harbour. The EOTMC were opposed to the impact the volume of dredged spoil would have on Te Tai o Arai Te Uru. After a long and drawn out process, in December 2012 the EOTMC were successful in tightening the restrictions on the Project Next Generation.