Skip to main content

Methods - how we monitor

How coastal protection is defined

Currently, the varying degrees of protection that can be awarded to coastal areas are defined as below:

Marine Reserve: an area completely protected from all extractive activities, usually through ‘no take’ laws and prohibition of removal or disturbance of living or non living features.

Marine Park: an area within which particular activities are restricted. For example: trawling, seine netting, marine dumping.

ASCV: Area of Significant Conservation Value. The boundary of an ASCV are Mean High Water Springs (MHWS) within the estuary or harbour and extend to the edge of the estuary or beyond as shown on the maps in Appendix III of the Waikato Regional Coastal Plan.
ASCV classification does not exclude appropriate development but it must be balanced with adequate recognition of the values within that area.

Taiapure: a local fishery declared under the Maori Fisheries Act 1989.

Rohe moana: an area where Kaitiaki are appointed for the management of customary food gathering within that area.

Mataitai: an area in which commerical fishing is prohibited and that recognises the use and management practices of Maori in the exercise of non-commercial fishing rights

Submarine cable and protection zone: areas where no fishing or anchoring is allowed to protect submarine cables or pipelines.

Marine mammal sanctuary: an area which protects and conserves marine mammals. In the West Coast North Island sanctuary there are restrictions on seismic surveying and mining.

Some or all of the above is expected to change: as the Marine Protected Areas policy and plan is put into effect, decisions are made whether existing reserves and parks provide the level of protection necessary to award them the title of MPA, and new MPAs are created to fill gaps in the network.

How we collect the data

Data on the spatial extent of Taiapure, Rohe moana, Matiatai and submarine cable protection areas has been provided by the Ministry of Fisheries through their National Aquatic Biodiversity Information System (NABIS). Overview of these areas is available on the NABIS website and data files in .tab format are available on email request through the site.

The Department of Conservation's website provides an overview (including maps) of Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve and Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.

The Waikato Regional Coastal Plan provides details of the location and extent of ASCVs.

Monitoring area

This indicator covers the entire marine area under Waikato Regional Council's jurisdiction which extends from the coastline to the twelve mile nautical limit.

To compile the indicator, we measure the extent of the Waikato region’s marine area that is legally protected or subject to customary activities. Restricted areas containing marine infrastructure such as submarine pipelines and cables are also included in this indicator.

Monitoring frequency

This indicator will be updated every five years, the next one is scheduled for 2020.

Monitoring history

The indicator has been developed using a data snapshot from June 2015. This snapshot in time will form a baseline for subsequent indicator updates and monitoring of changes over time.

Measurement technique

Information relating to the extent of marine protection is derived from spatial databases maintained by both Waikato Regional Council and external agencies such as the Ministry of Primary Industries National Aquatic Biodiversity Information System (NABIS).

The extent of the marine environment within Waikato Regional Council's jurisdiction is based upon Statistics New Zealand’s Territorial Authority Boundaries. The extent of this base layer is adjusted using a definition of the Waikato region’s coastline produced by the National Institute of Water and Air (NIWA). Modification of the marine area extent is necessary to ensure that the marine extent GIS layer includes harbours and other marine inlets.

This GIS technique derives area statistics which can be analysed and presented using standard Microsoft desktop tools.

How this indicator is compiled

Developing the coastal protection indicator requires two data creation and analysis steps detailed in the following text:

  1. A GIS layer representing the marine area of the Waikato region is created by initially selecting the area outside the territorial authorities from Statistics New Zealand meshblock data. The resulting marine area extends from the coast to the 12 mile nautical limit but as a statistical boundary, excludes harbours which are the location of many customary and aquaculture activities. This initial layer is modified to include harbours using a spatial layer of the Waikato region coastline supplied by the National Institute of Water and Air (NIWA).
  2. The following GIS layers were collected in June 2015:
    • Marine Reserves
    • Marine Parks
    • Marine mammal sanctuaries
    • ASCVs
    • Taiapure
    • Rohe Moana
    • Mataitai 
    • Submarine cable and pipeline protection zones

This data is derived from spatial databases maintained by both Waikato Regional Council and external agencies such as the Ministry of Primary Industries National Aquatic Biodiversity Information System (NABIS).

Each layer is subtracted from the marine extent layer and area statistics calculated using GIS techniques. These are summarised using Microsoft Access and exported to Microsoft Excel for final presentation and graphing.

Guidelines and standards

None relevant to this indicator.

Quality Control Procedures

Statistics New Zealand has in place a Quality Management Strategy (QMS) to ensure data from the 2001 Census is fit for use. Other databases used within this indicator are subject to rigorous quality assurance procedures imposed by Waikato Regional Council, The Ministry of Primary Industries and NIWA.


As the Ministry of Primary Industries and the Department of Conservation assess current marine reserves, parks etc and decide whether to assign them the status of an MPA, this indicator’s results will change. It is possible that new MPAs will be created in the Waikato as the MPA Policy and Implementation Plan is put into effect.

Although ASCVs afford some protection, development is still allowed within their boundaries. Some areas of different coastal protection overlap. For example, Aotea harbour is an ASCV and Rohe moana.

Small changes in extent of areas of different coastal protection are difficult to monitor due to the large extent of the marine area.