Māori Party help to make history with Mana Whakahono-ā-rohe agreements

Mana Whakahono-ā-Rohe agreements significantly improve the status quo for hapū and iwi under the RMA and provide a vehicle, outside of the Treaty of Waitangi settlement context, to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

“In a significant first, Mana Whakahono-ā-Rohe also explicitly provide for hapū to come to the table alongside Councils and form agreements,” Māori Party Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell says.

“Councils want healthy constructive relationships with iwi and hapū in their regions, as much as Māori do.  This will assist that.” 

The Māori Party supported the remaining stages of the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill in to the passage of law today with the final reading of the Bill in the House.

In exchange for the Māori Party’s two votes, changes in the new Act will include new iwi participation agreements (Mana Whakahono-ā-Rohe) and prevent ministers over-riding councils’ decision on GE crops (s360D powers), says Māori Party Co-leader Marama Fox.

“A Mana Whakahono-ā-Rohe agreement requires both iwi and councils to develop and agree a shared understanding of their respective expectations in the context of the Resource Management Act.

Practically, this will require agreement about who should be involved in a particular consent or plan process and creates robust, upfront engagement between hapu, iwi and councils, adding significant value to overall outcomes,” Ms Fox says.

“We acknowledge that some may question the provision for Mana Whakahono-ā-Rohe agreements but we consider that they are a positive step forward in both resource management laws and local government/Māori relations.”

Mr Flavell says investment in this upfront engagement will improve relationships, save time, reduce ongoing compliance costs and reduce appeals by hapū and iwi.  “It will also provide certainty to other stakeholders. It does not predetermine outcomes, but facilitates engagement.”  

“To suggest that any of these objectives are either unnecessary or burdensome is to also suggest that the last 30 years of countless litigation and appeals has been welcome and desirable on both the part of Councils and hapū and iwi.  “That is simply not true and history tells us how loathsome that approach has been for not just the parties concerned, but for the environment,” Mr Flavell says.

“Overall, the gains we have secured will strengthen the role of hapū and iwi to act as kaitiaki and ultimately the protection of the environment, while balancing the nation’s sustainable economic needs.”

“We acknowledge the mahi of the Freshwater Iwi Leaders Group, and their advisors, who helped shape the Mana Whakahono-ā-Rohe arrangements in the bill.  We agree these new arrangements are a significant step forward for those iwi and hapū who have previously been denied an effective role at the decision making table,” Mr Flavell says.

“We refused to allow the removal of rights for our people, and instead successfully negotiated, with the support of the Freshwater Iwi Leaders Group, a set of mechanisms to improve the ability of Councils and hapū and iwi to agree to engage from the outset”. 

Ms Fox says, while the Māori Party acknowledge some would have preferred a further limiting of the Environment Minister’s s360D powers, the Māori Party successfully reduced the original proposed powers of the Minister under s360D to only be used in the instance where there is a duplication of legislation, which must have public consultation and a section 32 report before initiation.

“The gains related to s360D compared to the original drafting are a significant shift. The powers that were limited reduced from four areas to just one, and we are confident this is a vast improvement on the original set of s360D proposals,” says Ms Fox.

“The carve out for the growing of GE free food crops and the deletion of section 43A (which would have permitted GM crops within communities despite their desire or rules to say they did not want GMOs) are two other significant concessions that the Māori Party were able to gain through progressive negotiations with the Environment Minister,” Ms Fox says.

“Time and again we are attacked by the opposition for getting nothing at the table, but this bill shows the power of two and the benefits of being at the table.” 

The list of gains beyond Mana Whakahono-ā-Rohe arrangements and the GMO carve out for food crops are as follows: 

  • The retention of sections 6,7 and 8
  • A reduction in the push towards streamlining where it impacts our people’s rights to protect our whenua and wai.
  • Collaborative planning processes that require iwi to be in the decision making groups on planning processes.
  • The removal of the right of Councils to end a section 36B joint management agreement without the approval of the iwi.
  • A range of other changes which will improve iwi, hapu and whanau giving effect to their kaitiakitanga.

“The Māori Party has been about ensuring progress is not at the detriment of Papatūānuku and recognising the role of hapū and iwi. This has always been a priority for us in the Māori Party,” says Ms Fox.

“The Māori Party gains include ensuring the Treaty of Waitangi obligations aren’t diluted and strengthening the role of hapū and iwi as kaitiaki for their whenua, awa, maunga and other natural tāonga in their rohe.”