Information about customary rights

Amateur fishers must keep to daily recreational allowances. However, there are rules that allow for customary fishing rights to be exercised outside of daily recreational allowances, if the fisher holds a valid customary authorisation under the relevant fisheries regulations. Find out more about the rules, regulations, and how to apply.

Applying for customary fishing authorisation

You can apply to undertake customary fishing for hui or tangi. The authorisations must be in writing.

Customary authorisations can be issued only by a guardian (tangata kaitiaki or tangata tiaki) who has been appointed by the local tangata whenua to represent them. Guardians can include authorised representatives of a marae committee, Māori committee, rūnanga, or Māori trust board.

For more information on getting authorisation from a tangata kaitiaki or tangata tiaki, email

Rules for customary fishing

Fishers can apply for a customary fishing authorisation in certain areas under regulations.

Rules for customary fishing are determined by local tangata whenua according to local customary practice and the regulations. It is the responsibility of tangata whenua to manage customary fishing in their area, so it is their decision whether to grant an authorisation for customary fishing. Tangata kaitiaki or tangata tiaki, who have been appointed by tangata whenua, are the only people who may grant authorisations. They can only grant authorisations in areas for which they've been appointed.

Customary fishing is strictly for non-commercial purposes, and customary catch cannot be sold, traded, or used for fundraising.

Recreational and customary fishing regulations

Customary fishing for hui or tangi can occur under regulations 50 and 51 of the Fisheries (Amateur Fishing) Regulations 2013. These regulations apply in all areas and to all fish stocks that are managed under the Fisheries Act 1996 until the Kaimoana Customary Fishing Regulations, South Island Customary Fishing Regulations, or other customary fisheries regulations come into effect.

The Act and all regulations can be read on the New Zealand Legislation website:

Crimes and penalties

It is a crime for anyone to gather or possess fish for customary purposes if they:

  • have not received an authorisation from an appointed tangata kaitiaki or tangata tiaki  
  • are taking fish outside of the instructions as specified on the authorisation
  • alter any authorisation granted by a tangata kaitiaki or tangata tiaki
  • breach any bylaws created for the particular area.

If you are convicted of a first offence against the regulations, you face a fine of up to $10,000. Any subsequent conviction could mean a fine of up to $20,000.

Who to contact

If you have questions about recreational fishing or customary fishing, email

Fisheries Review

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has started a review of New Zealand's fisheries management system to ensure it's still fit-for-purpose and maintains sustainable fisheries for current and future generations.

Last reviewed: | Has this been useful? Give us your feedback