Monday, November 30, 2015

Mike Butler: RMA adds first dibs for iwi

More than six years ago the new National-led Government announced the Resource Management (Simplify and Streamline) Amendment Bill 2009. This intended to boost economic development by removing vexatious objections, streamlining processes for projects of national significance, creating an Environmental Protection Authority, improving planning and resource consent processes, and streamlining decision-making.

However, a much watered-down Resource Legislation Amendment Bill that was finally introduced by Environment Minister Nick Smith on Thursday includes an unexpected requirement that tribal authorities be consulted at an earlier stage of planning applications.

Its main changes would be new national planning templates for councils, faster and more flexible planning processes, reduced requirements for minor consents such as decks or a carport, and stronger national direction on issues such as housing.

Tribal consultation is of interest to the Keep Water Kiwi group. Tribal involvement in decision-making is one of four main steps in a strategy by the Freshwater Iwi Leaders Group to take control of water.

Section 58 of the bill details tribal participation arrangements.

“The purpose of an iwi participation arrangement is to provide an opportunity for local authorities and iwi authorities to discuss, agree, and record ways in which tangata whenua may, through iwi authorities, participate in the preparation, change, or review of a policy statement or plan in accordance with the processes set out in Schedule 1.”

In other words, part-Maori New Zealanders may have separate input into council planning through the tribal authorities created through the treaty settlement process.

Local authorities would invite tribal authorities to enter into an iwi participation arrangement 30 working days after a local body election unless it has already agreed to a participation arrangement with that authority.

A tribal authority must notify its acceptance of the invitation within 60 working days after the date on which the invitation is issued

A participation arrangement must be recorded in writing and identify the parties to the arrangement, must specify how a tribal authority party may participate in the preparation or change of a policy statement or plan, how the parties will give effect to the requirements of any provision.

It also must specify whether any other arrangement agreed between the local authority and any one or more tribal authorities that provides a role for those tribal authorities in the preparation or change of a policy statement or plan should be maintained or, if applicable, modiļ¬ed or cancelled.

The tribal consultation provisions are extensive, both in Section 58 of the bill and in Schedule 1.

The inclusion of tribal consultation in the act regulating resource management is the latest cave-in by the Key-led government to its coalition partner the Maori Party that got just 1.3 percent of the party vote last year.

The truth is that Maori voters hardly support the Maori Party.

For six years National and ACT were just one vote short of being able to pass an amendment that added "economic development" to the Resource Management Act's stated purpose.

However, National’s governing partners, the Maori Party and United Future's Peter Dunne, were implacably opposed, particularly Dunne who, as a Labour MP in the 1980s, worked closely with Sir Geoffrey Palmer, the architect of the Resource Management Act.

“Iwi consultation” sounds like harmless window-dressing but does bring actual delays while creating an opportunity to withhold consent unless benefits are conferred. This has the effect of quietly entrenching stand-over tactics into local governance.

And because literate iwi members are thin on the ground in the regions, tribal involvement in council decision-making has brought a new demand for extra funding to teach people how to function in local governance and pay them to be trained.

The new buzzword this new form of adult education is “capacity building”.

Local authorities would be required to send out multiple invitations because all regions have more than one iwi – Hawke’s Bay has nine.

If the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill passes with the iwi consultation clause, it looks like decision-making about resources is about to become a lot slower.


Sarah said...

We are introducing corruption - at the heart of strife and failing economies - into our governance - appalling.

ONZF said...

Who are these people called Maori? Are they the people that stole the land from the tangata whenua (the original inhabitants) in the 14 century? Are they the people that begged Britain to protect them in 1831? Are they the people that were on the brink of becoming extinct because of their love of human flesh? Are they the people that Britain gave the same rights as the people of England without lifting a finger in 1840? Are the people called tangata Maori in the Tiriti o Waitangi, not tangata whenua? Are they the people that have intermarried of their own free will with people from other lands until today they are only Maori in legislation? And finally, are they the people that government believe are a special group that should have a say in how our country is run when their Maori ancestors couldn't run it in 1831? I arrest my case!