“The notion that this is related to the Government’s manifesto is absolute crap. This is the activity of a small, delusional, irrelevant group,” Fisheries Minister Shane Jones told Newshub.
He described the group as “outlaws who are trying to ruin a fishing competition that has been running for decades”.
“I am offended by their behaviour,” Jones said.
“This fishing competition actually raises money and that money goes to local community charities.”
And the minister has a message for those keen to participate in the event.
“I say to all members wanting to enjoy the fishing competition, just get on with it,” he said.
Jones said the boat ramp in Doubtless Bay is “an access way to a beautiful marine environment”.
“It’s a public asset, largely funded by the community, not by a tiny group of angry birds,” he added. “Most Māori are embarrassed by their antics.”
Ngāti Kahu representative Wikatana Popata spoke with Newshub earlier today, saying organisers of the event have never bothered to consult them over contests that “deplete their fish stocks”.
“Our plan is to block off all access points to our moana,” Popata told Newshub.
“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.”
Runanga chairperson Margaret Mutu told Newshub 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,” Mutu said.
Event organiser Nick Ryan describes it as a “no-win situation”, and just wants people to exercise their right to fish.
With 3000 tourists beginning to descend on the area from across the country, he said it’s too late to cancel.
“We are somewhat stunned that the people that have made these sort of outlandish, in my view, statements in the last 24 hours have taken so long to come up with this and put us in a no-win situation,” Ryan told Newshub.
“I’m sitting here trying to organise a charitable event and I’m now getting into a Treaty war,” he added.
Ryan said the community is behind the competition, but Popata says he has plenty of supporters for the blockade.
“I can muster 100 of my own family, so see what happens,” Popata told Newshub.
He said the blockade will begin on Friday morning, no matter what.