Sunday, November 1, 2015
Mike Butler: Gisborne resource co-governance
The agreement between Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou, a trustee company, and the Gisborne District Council, passed at a council meeting October 8, includes heavily criticised aspects of co-governance involving tribal appointees with full voting rights.
These appointees are only accountable to the person who appointed them and are impossible to remove at voting time.
The purpose of this agreement is to provide a means for Nga Hapu o Ngati Porou to share in decision-making under the Resource Management Act within the Waiapu Catchment which is located 145km north of Gisborne.
About 90 percent of the Waiapu Valley’s 2000 inhabitants are Maori. Ruatoria, with 750 residents, is the main population centre. This is Rasta country.
Deforestation in the area has hastened erosion and increased the sediment in the Waiapu River.
The Waiapu River and its tributaries are a statutory acknowledgement area under the 2012 Ngati Porou Deed of Settlement with the Crown. This settlement included financial redress of $110-million.
Ngati Porou regard the joint management agreement as a first step towards joint decision-making powers in the entire Ngati Porou district.
The Ngati Porou traditional area extends from Gisborne up to the northern tip of the East Cape with the western boundary along the Raukumara Range.
Two further tribes, Rongowhakaata and Te Aitanga a Mahaki, occupy the western and southern areas of the Gisborne district.
An earlier agreement between Ngati Porou and the Gisborne council about the erosion of the Waiapu catchment area was signed in April of 2014.
This Waiapu Accord created a partnership between the Ministry of Primary Industries, the Gisborne District Council and Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou Trustee Limited to restore the Waiapu Catchment.
Ngati Porou and the council will meet every four months to discuss the operation of the agreement as well as “capacity building”, which includes Ngati Porou landowners and the Ngati Porou trustee company.
The full council and the Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou Board will select hearing panel members to act as the decision-makers. The default number is three panel members, made up of one member appointed by each party. A chairperson is appointed by the already appointed members. Five-member panels may be appointed.
All members of the panel will have equal voting rights at the hearing, and the chairperson has the casting vote in the case of a split vote.
A conflict of interest may arise when a panel member owns land that is subject to a consent application. A panel member is not precluded from discussing or voting on a matter merely because the member has Ngati Porou ancestry.
Remuneration for panel members appointed by the Ngati Porou company will be charged at the same rate as the council commissioners according to the Local Government Act 2002 and section 19 of the Remuneration Authority Act 1977, although no dollar amounts could be found.
The agreement will be formally reviewed every 12 months after the adoption date, subject to the agreement of both parties. Either party may terminate the agreement by giving the other party 20 working days’ notice.
A Joint Management Forum is tasked with overseeing the agreement. The make-up is 50 percent council and 50 percent Ngati Porou representatives, the numbers have not been decided yet.
Gisborne councillors voted on October 8 to receive the report and to resolve that the mayor and chief executive sign the joint management agreement on behalf of the Gisborne District council and agree to implement it.
The vote was carried by 11 votes to one with the only vocal opponent, Roger Haisman, recording a vote against the motion when a division was called.
Votes in favour were recorded by Meredith Akuhata-Brown, Bill Burdett, Andy Cranston, Amber Dunn, Alan Davidson, mayor Meng Foon, Larry Foster, Brian Wilson, Pat Seymour, Rehette Stoltz and Josh Wharehinga. Graeme Thomson abstained and Craig Bauld was not present.
Haisman told the Gisborne Herald that having non-elected people appointed for hearings was an abdication of the elected councillor’s responsibilities.
He also said that landowners in the district were very upset, and noted that if Federated Farmers or the Chamber of Commerce wanted commissioners appointed for hearings, they would be refused.
Council spokesperson Heather Kohn did not answer directly a question regarding decisions over the allocation of water in the areas in which Ngati Porou have a vested interest other than to say that the agreement includes both land and water within or affecting the Waiapu catchment, that "whakapapa should not be looked upon as being a barrier nor a reason to have a conflict of interest", and that "all hearing panel members will be subject to the same standards outlined in the Resource Management Act".
The agreement is likely to raise expectations by Rongowhakaata and Te Aitanga a Mahaki for similar joint management agreements in other parts of the Gisborne district.
A poll by the Gisborne Herald on October 2 showed that 69 percent voted against the joint management proposal.
This is the first joint management agreement instigated under s36B of the Resource Management Act to apply to all land and water within a catchment area, between a council and a tribal organisation, according to a memo to the Gisborne council attached to the agreement.(3)
Earlier resource co-governance arrangements include the Resource Planning Committee of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, the Crown-tribe Te Pou Tupua entity for the Whanganui River, three co-governance bodies for the Waikato River, and a number of resource or conservation committees generated by the 68 treaty settlements finalized since 1989.
1. Joint Management Agreement, http://www.gdc.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/15-346-X1-Appendix-reduced.pdf
2. Nod for joint agreement, Gisborne Herald, October 9, 2015. http://www.gisborneherald.co.nz/article/?id=43381
3. Report to council for decision, http://www.gdc.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/15-346-Report.pdf
at 10:59 AM