The Māori Party says gains they will secure around the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill (RLAB) will strengthen kaitiakitanga for iwi and the protection of the environment. While balancing the nation’s economic needs.
“We have reached agreement with the Government on the policy of this important piece of legislation and subject to the final drafting of the RLAB reflecting these agreements, we will be supporting this Bill through its remaining stages,” Māori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell says.
“We have identified key areas in the Bill as a priority and have negotiated with National amendments to the RMA which strikes a balance between environmental protection and development.”
Retaining Section 6 and 7, Part 2 of the RMA, where environmental protection remain at the forefront has always been ou stand and the call for iwi participation arrangements detailing how tangata whenua, through iwi authorities and councils, will work together throughout the planning process has been addressed.
“There are also other proposed amendments that will enhance the participation of iwi as kaitiaki of natural resources within their rohe,” says Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox.
“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 be used to achieve kaitiakitanga in the new Bill is through Mana Whakahono ā Rohe Agreements, says Mr Flavell.
“The principles that underpin 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.
“In the meantime, we have been working hard to ensure we get Mana Whakahono ā Rohe Agreements finalised and we are pleased about this significant gain, among others including:
- Pulling back the regulation-making powers of the Minister under Section 360D so communties can have their say
- Collaborative planning process to encourage greater public engagement and solutions
- Strengthening of requirements to manage natural hazard risks
- New provisions to enable stock exclusion from waterways
- Planning processes to reduce costs and delays in the process whilst still protecting the environment
- The enabling of appeals on merit where there is no consensus in the Collaborative Planning Process
- Environment Court judge as part of the review panel to hear submissions under the Collaborative Planning Process
- Appeals possible on merit, if a council deviates from the recommendations of the Review Panel otherwise on points of law
- The removal of the majority of the proposed restrictions on the involvement in applications that are limited notified
- Submission strikeouts to be discretionary rather than mandatory,
- The removal of alternative consenting authorities.
“Mana Whakahono a Rohe agreements goes beyond anything that currently exists for Māori outside of a Treaty Settlement. This Bill gives iwi a chance to engage like they haven’t been able to do before,” Mr Flavell says.
“What we have to remember is the content of Mana Whakahono agreement are to be negotiated between council and iwi they are not prescribed.”
Ms Fox says the Māori Party know that many of the homeless in those communities are our people.
“So we have been putting in place where we want to give effect to better collaborative agreements that reduces pressure on councils and improves the decisions that are made at a local level. This is why Mana Whakahono is important.
“However this should not be at the detriment to this country’s natural and cultural taonga. The Māori Party is confident that the changes advocated for in the RMA amendments better balance development and kaitiakitanga,” Ms Fox says.
“What this shows is that the Māori Party care about the environment, we are the voice of reason and we can work with any party to achieve a good outcome for Māori and all of New Zealand.”
The Freshwater Iwi Leaders Group has collaborated closely with the Māori Party on these amendments and commends the Māori 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.
The work we have done with the iwi leaders is a sign of things to come in the future. On a daily basis we look out for the needs of our people by collaborating with and advocating for whanau, hapu and iwi.