Saturday, November 19, 2016

Frank Newman: RMA rackets and the mood for change

Two years ago I quoted from a story appearing in the NZ Herald, written by Bob Jones. The story involved one of his buildings, a 17 story office tower in downtown Auckland. A tenant had blocked out some of the windows so when they vacated Jones wanted to restore the window panes.

Jones says, "..we were then informed by a planner my Auckland office uses for council dealings (which can be laborious) that under the new council rules, changes to a building's appearance require resource consent and we would be subject to penalty if we simply put back the window...we were then told that under the new Draft Unitary Plan, not yet enacted, our building being within 50 metres of a designated Maori heritage site, we needed RMA approval (for a new shop window, for God's sake), this instantly forthcoming at a cost of $4500 plus the approval of 13 iwi."

It turns out that not just one iwi needed to be consulted, but 13 ranging from Taranaki to Whangarei! The nonsense gets worse, as Bob Jones describes.

"One respondent bearing that fine old Maori name of Jeff Lee, representing something called Ngai Tai Ki Tamaki, contacted the planner...after advising the planners verbally that no Cultural Impact Assessment Report was required for the window, he nevertheless asked them to consider it - brace yourselves - given his ancestors, centuries ago, gathered in the vicinity.

Lee then wrote, outlining his terms for 'assessing the window's cultural impact' which, he said, would take him 'a total of six to eight hours'. For this he sought $90 per hour plus GST and 'travel expenses of 0.77c p/km.'

At this stage we became involved and told the planners to tell Mr Lee to get stuffed. In the words of my company's manager, a historian knowledgeable in Maori history and who speaks the language: 'It's a classic case of bureaucrats worried about cultural correctness without thinking through the consequences.'

I more succinctly call it a racket..."

Unfortunately what Jones told of then, is about to get worse. Yet another Bill amending the Resource Management Act is before Parliament at present. It has passed its first reading and is now back before a select committee. When the Bill was first introduced in November last year it only did so because of some back-room wheeling and dealing between National and the Maori Party.

Last week the Maori Party extracted further concessions from National in return for their further support (and this may not be the last as there are many more steps in the process).
The Maori Party have described it like this:

"Iwi have a role as kaitiaki of our natural resources based on the spiritual and cultural relationship they have always had with the environment. Māori therefore must be given a crucial role in the management of these resources including our rivers, mountains and national parks. It is our responsibility and right to protect, restore and enhance the environment. The mechanism proposed to achieve kaitiakitanga in the new Bill is through Mana Whakahono ā Rohe Agreements. The principles underpinning mana whakahono agreements will ensure both iwi and councils have a mutually agreed understanding of how iwi will be involved and what is required of iwi and councils. This will also support wider stakeholders understanding of why, how and when they are required to engage with iwi.”

At present there are no provisions for any public consultation over the last minute inclusion of these new provisions in the Bill -  it is up to the Committee's discretion as to whether the public be given an opportunity to have a say on the matter via a new submission process.
To be quite blunt, National's RMA reform process has become a mess.

The positive changes that Nick Smith gloated about when starting out on the current reform process, have through political deal-making, been replaced with provisions embedding the very things Bob Jones wrote about two years ago - which he described as a racket.

What politicians should have learnt from 2016 is that they ignore the silent majority at their own peril, and 2017 will be no less challenging for the political establishment, especially in Europe where once minor parties are gaining traction. But we should not forget that there is also a general election here in New Zealand no later than the 18th of November next year.  This time next year we will know if the mood for change reaches our shores.


Brian said...

Rackets, Rackets!, with the ball in the Maori Iwi Court! Game set and match?
If ever I thought this country would have a government so gullible and weak with so much lust for retaining power, I would have regretted my days past as a member of the National Party much sooner.
We have all become slaves to Iwi Maori demands, and it is very doubtful whether if Labour had been on the Government benches anything different would be occurring; as all parties are dominated by the signing of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The RMA would sit very well in the Halls of the Kremlin and Hitler’s Reichstag, its attitude belies its ultimate ambition to dominate our lives and ease the future pathway towards a totalitarian state…probably a Green dominated one. Have your CO2 bottle at the ready!
We should be thankful at the trend set at long last by Brexit and the Republican victory over the left policies which have dominated the last few decades. One swallow does not however make a summer, and the left wing indoctrination that has taken place is self evident in the way the young in democratic nations cannot, and will not, accept a vote against their views.
The right to protest is paramount part of democracy; the right to riot within that protest is not. If the left with its cultural hypocrisy and subversion of history continues its present ideology; democracy itself will not survive.
It will be interesting to see the development of Britain outside of Leftist Europe, and a USA pledged by Mr. Trump to regain its status, and how they both will fare in a confused and aggressive world.

Chris said...

So under the proposed legislation, Maori say "It is our responsibility and right to protect, RESTORE and enhance the environment." So do they take responsibility for the destruction of the environment around Kaikoura after the latest Earthquake, and are they taking it upon themselves to Fix it?

Anonymous said...

The RMA vastly intrudes on Property Rights - such that you may have a paper title to a property, but if a bureaucrat can tell you, you must obey all of their regulations and restrictions, then it is quite moot that it is indeed your property (and not theirs). Property Rights are a cornerstone of a market economy (sometimes called Capitalism). For a National government to introduce this attack was surely against their stated principles, and thus should have been repealed at the 1st chance it got. Tinkering with an atrocity does not reduce the ugliness.
{Historically the drafter was ACT MP Ken Shirley when he was a Labour MP}

The 2nd point is about maori being guardians of nature. Jared Diamond's Guns Germs and Steel listed about 28 birds that maori had exterminated ~ the various moa are the most well known; plus the Haast eagle, the biggest ever flighted bird. They also indulged in slash and burn techniques. Recently a Nga Puhi elder was charged for having dead protected native pigeons. I don't think many maori have a good enough track record to be given such powers.