If you’re interested in the emerging co-governance debate, here’s a tip: Keep an eye on what’s going on with Tuhoe and the DOC huts and the area formerly known as Te Urewera National Park.
I think this is becoming the most of obvious example of why co-governance doesn’t work.
Quick recap: back in 2014 Chris Finlayson reached a treaty settlement with Tuhoe, and part of that allowed the iwi to govern Te Urewera National Park with DOC.
Kiwis were promised they’d still have guaranteed public access.
That’s not happening: Tuhoe closed the park all of last summer, they refused to let DOC maintain the huts and swing bridges and boardwalks, they object to 1080 drops so the pests have got out of control.
And now they’re burning down the back country DOC huts.
Here’s why co-governance doesn’t work: Because Tuhoe is doing this despite a huge amount of opposition.
Hunters don’t like it, conservationists don’t like it, trampers don’t like it, and even Tuhoe’s people don’t like it.
There were huge protests yesterday. Hundreds of people both Maori and Pakeha protested in Taneatua, waving placards saying “hands off our huts” and “stop state-funded desecration”.
There’s an 8000 strong petition calling for the removals to stop.
But what can we do about? What can the conservationists and the hunters and the trampers and even the people of Tuhoe do about it?
Because there is no accountability.
The iwi's governing body calls the shots. Even if it breaks the terms of the deal, even if its own people don’t like it. They call the shots, they’re not answerable to you and I.
That is the opposite of how our democracy works.
Normally if you don’t like something you can complain to a higher authority or vote them out, but you can't do that with Tuhoe.
And that in a nutshell is the problem with co-governance.
And if you’re not yet convinced, Watch the Tuhoe case unfold.
Heather du Plessis-Allan is a journalist and commentator who hosts Newstalk ZB's Drive show.
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