The Freshwater Iwi Leaders Group welcomes the Mana Whakahono-a-Rohe amendments secured by the Māori Party to the Resource Management Act (RMA), saying they enhance mechanisms for tangata whenua participation in the management of natural resources.
Sir Mark Solomon, Deputy Chair of the Iwi Leaders Group says, “We strongly support the changes which create a new opportunity for Iwi and hapū to engage with Councils in a more equitable way. We believe that resource sapping Treaty Settlements should not be the sole avenue for Iwi to obtain meaningful and collaborative relationships with Councils, and the proposed changes to the RMA will enable all iwi to develop agreements with the local authorities in their rohe and thereby improving the engagement of local government with tangata whenua."
The proposed RMA amendments establish Mana Whakahono-a-Rohe agreements which will require both iwi and councils to develop a shared understanding of each other’s expectations and roles regarding RMA issues which will be recorded in a formal agreement. Mana Whakahono-a-Rohe agreements will provide significant benefit to both iwi and councils, but will also deliver much needed certainty to a wider range of stakeholders.
“The commitment to Mana Whakahono-a-Rohe agreements is ground-breaking as we at last have a universal vehicle through which iwi and Councils can develop a deeper understanding and agree collaborative arrangements that protect our natural ecosystems and enable sustainable development consistent with our kaitiakitanga values. These are changes we are proud to have supported through our work with both the Crown and the Māori Party," says Sir Mark.
The Iwi Leaders Group believes these RMA amendments provide an important mechanism to give effect to the essential role tangata whenua play as kaitiaki without ignoring the significant economic gains that iwi have to offer in regards to sustainable development for local communities. Iwi seek to invest in their own rohe and want to be part of the regional economic growth our country is so desperately seeking. Mana Whakahono-a-Rohe agreements allow a clear path to working more closely with local government who have this shared outcome in mind.
The Freshwater Iwi Leaders Group has collaborated closely with the Maori Party on these amendments and commends the Maori Party for their keen focus throughout the process on ensuring that Iwi have greater opportunities to give effect to their role as kaitiaki in their respective rohe.
"These are significant gains made by the Māori Party that will benefit iwi and hapū and we look forward to putting these into action on the ground in our various communities for the good of our lands, waters and other treasured natural ecosystems," says Sir Mark. “There remains much work to be done in relation to the Crown’s wider RMA and freshwater reforms aspects of which are being considered by the Waitangi Tribunal this week, and resourcing to support iwi and Councils in these new initiatives will also be important, but this is a very positive step in the right direction.”