In the 1980s and 1990s there was a growth of mussel farming in the Marlborough Sounds. Local Māori believed that they were missing out in being awarded rights to develop such farms. In 1997 they applied to the Māori Land Court for determination of the foreshore and seabed as Māori customary land. The case eventually went to the Court of Appeal, which decided that the Māori Land Court had the jurisdiction to consider the issue. It was this decision in 2003 that sparked great public debate.
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