Erosion of rights
In the first years after the Treaty, the government often recognised Māori fishing rights. There was no set policy, although early land sales sometimes included fishing reserves.
Within decades Māori fishing rights were being eroded by Pākehā settlement. New laws brought in various restrictions, and Māori began to battle for rights offshore as well as in foreshores, lakes, rivers, and harbours.
In 1877 the government passed legislation that recognised Treaty-based fishing rights, but these were increasingly confined to special rights in specific cases. This provision continued, and was included in the 1983 Fisheries Act. However, the law gave no guarantees, and officials saw Māori fishing rights as customary and not commercial, whereas Māori saw them as both.