A southern Taranaki iwi says the public needs to get the message that Maori customary rights to the foreshore and seabed are about protecting and sustaining fisheries for all New Zealanders, not excluding people from access to the beaches.
Some hapu of Ngaruahine have made an application to gather whitebait as part of their customary rights from local beaches and waterways.
The chair of Nga Hapu o Ngaruahine Iwi Incorporation says it is a sustainability issue that involves everyone - Maori and Pakeha alike - working together to protect kaimoana resources.
Daisy Noble says everyone needs to ensure that those food supplies are there for generations, because they sustained her ancestors for many centuries.
Mrs Noble says their descendants have an obligation to ensure that the seabed and foreshore including the fisheries are looked after to keep providing for the next generations.
She says Maori have been practising sustainability for centuries and do not really need customary laws to declare what they can do.
However, she says the law as it is says Maori must seek an order to allow them to carry out their traditional practises in case they are challenged.