In its draft Unitary Plan (UP), Auckland Council slips in mention that it will, “Require [land] subdivision, use and development … to incorporate the outcomes articulated by mana whenua through consultation and within iwi planning documents.”
This statement would ordinarily be a recitation of basic legal obligations on Auckland Council under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), except that the UP is proposing an entirely political commitment to privilege and facilitate the interests of Auckland’s Maori tribes over the rest of the community.
Seizing on the continuing settlement of Auckland tribal Treaty claims, the UP states, “This creates an opportunity to develop a new approach to resource management where mana whenua are directly involved in the resource management process….”
Accordingly, the reference to iwi planning documents causes concern within the wider context of the UP’s statements to the effect that Auckland Council will actively impose what Maori tribes want upon the Auckland region, its residents and ratepayers.
“The UP has an important role in helping decision-makers to expand their perspective to include tikanga that are significant to mana whenua and have a bearing on resource management,” the draft states.
“The UP will provide clear direction that tikanga must be properly considered in relation to any activity within the rohe [region, district or area].”
Iwi planning documents and concepts like tikanga and mana whenua have their statutory roots in the RMA.
In the RMA’s section 2 list of definitions, mana whenua means “customary authority exercised by an iwi or hapu in an identified area”, and tikanga means “Maori customary values and practices”.
These broad definitions underpin sweeping claims to exercise control, influence and rent seeking activities over natural resources and vast tracts of land that Maori tribes don’t own themselves.
The RMA provides a mechanism for Maori tribes to attempt imposition of their claims across an entire district or region through iwi authority plans.
The RMA defines a plan as “a regional plan or a district plan” and an iwi authority as “the authority which represents an iwi and which is recognised by that iwi as having authority to do so”.
Maori tribes or subgroups thereof can reinvent themselves as iwi authorities under their own recognition and there is no external check or appeal on this process.
It is these self-appointed iwi authorities that the UP is advocating should be enabled to force their iwi management plans (IMPs) onto the rest of Auckland, including potentially all property and resources in the area.
To be effective, IMPs must be formally lodged with a local authority council.
The RMA and various court decisions hold that councils are obliged to “take into account” IMPs lodged with them, but retain the discretion to select, what, if anything, is relevant in those IMPs to their own RMA planning processes.
There is no obligation on a council to adopt in whole or part any IMA as council planning.
However, as found by the Environment Court in the 2006 decision of Chapple, J v Bay of Plenty Regional Council W077/06, the Environment Court and councils don’t have the authority to decide who has mana whenua over any place, or to determine which of competing IMPs lodged apply to a particular area.
All IMPs lodged with a council must be given equal treatment when being taken into account for RMA purposes, even where they might conflict.
The UP recognises 19 iwi authorities in the Auckland region, which could lead to at least 19 and possibly more IMPs applying and potentially overlapping.
To get a flavour for what Auckland is being set up for by the UP, there is the example of the Mahaanui Iwi Management Plan 2013 for Canterbury.
This IMP was drawn up by six Ngai Tahu subtribes, runs to 392 pages, and has been lodged with the councils of Christchurch, Waimakariri, Selwyn, and Hurunui, and also Environment Canterbury.
On a Treaty partnership theme, the IMP’s working group asserts, “Our expectation is that this IMP will sit alongside the Regional Policy Statement and regional, district and city plans as a Ngai Tahu statement on how to achieve the sustainable management of natural resources in Canterbury.”
Based on historical associations with Canterbury, the six tribal groups make detailed claims and demands affecting public and private property and resources throughout the province, such as fresh water and the high country.
Auckland Council should be prevented from making the leap from simply taking IMPs into account to becoming the neo-apartheid agency that proactively advocates and implements them as part of a Maori racial supremacist policy.
Auckland’s residents and ratepayers would not support this leap into institutionalised racial inequality at a referendum.
Auckland Council has duties and responsibilities to residents and ratepayers other than local Maoris, and has no mandate even in the RMA to go beyond basic legal requirements.
First published in the NBR.