Last month’s super moon saw a king-tide of legislation wash up on Eastern shores. In this story, we look at the most recent sea-change, the Resource Legislation Ammendment Bill (RLAB) and what it means for Ngati Porou.
Three giant waka - Te Ture Whenua Maori Bill ((TTWM), the Foreshore and Seabed Deed of Agreement (F&SDA) and the Resource Legislation Ammendment Bill (RLAB) dropped anchor off our coastline this season.
Those ahi ka who keep a weather-eye on the horizon have been watching these waka as they navigate their passage into law.
Ngati Porou welcomes the proposals put forward by the latest Bill (RLAB). Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou Chair, Selwyn Parata, says the Bill toughens the framework that allows local government to work alongside iwi and hapu on issues of regional interest.
“Ngati Porou have consistently and clearly articulated our mana in the rohe of Ngati Porou and have advocated for the inclusion of Ngati Porou leadership in all resource management decisions that impact on our lands, our waters and our people.”
The Bill introduces 40 changes across Resource Management Act, the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf Act (EEZ), and the Environmental Protection Authority Act (EPA). The Bill would also amend the Conservation Act, the Reserves Act, and the Public Works Act (PWA).
The RLAB updates the tools in the Resource Management Act (RMA) to ensure top-level engagement by iwi in urban and rural development.
Selwyn Parata says the Bill, which has the backing of the Iwi Leader’s Forum and the Maori Party, joins the dots between the RMA and accords like the 2015 Joint Management Agreement between Ngati Porou at the Gisborne District Council.
The TRONPnui chair says, these changes will provide clarity for iwi who have yet to settle Treaty claims with the Crown.
“Mana Whakahono-a- Rohe Agreements provide for a partnership approach that enables iwi aspirations for the ecosystem’s well-being, collaborative outcomes, sustainable development and employment opportunities. These aspirations are not unique to Maori, they are shared by all New Zealanders.”
Many aspects of the changes affecting mainstream, will not affect the autonomy of iwi and hapu over their assets.
Under the Bill, heritage orders on private land will be abolished and, another proposal gives councils power to demolish abandoned coastal structures. Nevertheless, the combined result of changes in TTWM Bill, the Foreshore & Seabed Deed and TLAB’s Mana Whakahono mean these ammendments will not apply blindly to iwi-owned land or assets.
The mechanisms used to achieve kaitiakitanga in the new Bill are Mana Whakahono a Rohe Agreements.
The Bill Section 58 makes it mandatory for regional and district councils to contact iwi within four weeks of local body elections. After this, iwi have a period of six months (unless agreed otherwise) to put together Mana Whakahono.
Mana Whakahono must outline ways of checking the agreement is working well for iwi and hapu. They need to have a clear pathway for handling disputes and conflict between council and iwi authorities. In many cases, council will have agreements in place with more than one iwi, so Mana Whakahono must explain how all parties work together.
The Bill keeps Section 6 and 7 in Part 2 of the RMA, that spells out the Crown’s overriding duty to protect the natural environment. An iwi or hapu can object to a council consent and be heard in the Environment Court by an independent commissioner.
An Environment Court judge will be part of the panel hearing submissions under the Collaborative Planning Process. Communities decisions will carry more weight and the power of ministerial oversight will be cut back.
The Bill gives iwi greater say in how to manage natural hazards and disasters. In the event of a tidal wave or earthquake hitting coastal areas, iwi will be sitting at the same table as civil defense and other local authorities when dealing with a disaster.
The Bill brings in changes to Part 3 of the RMA to make the process cheaper by scrapping current charges and replacing them with mandatory set fees. The Environment Court will also become more affordable. The court will have the authority to waive costs and fees in cases of financial hardship or if the matter is in the public interest.
Mana Whakahono give iwi a direct say in planning for long-term housing needs under sections 30 and 31 of the RMA. Under the Bill, council are required to set aside enough land for housing growth and residential services.
Working together with council will allow Ngati Porou to plot the future needs of expanding communities to allow for subdivision, infrastructure services and social hubs such as libraries, schools and sports facilities. The idea is to make it cheaper, easier and quicker to get a decision on developments and subdivisions.
While the Bill toughens regulations on keeping cattle away from freshwater, the proposed changes do not yet include the safeguards Ngati Porou is hoping for in terms of freshwater preservation. The Waitangi Tribunal is examining conservation measures that will take the 2014 National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management to another level in ecological sustainability.
RLAB is of major interest to the mana moana of coastal iwi because it brings in a new set of tools for the EEZ to simplify marine consent applications. The proposed ammendments will speed outcomes, whether refusal or consent, on permit applications for fossil fuel exploration through New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals.
The Crown’s long-time position has been to generate revenue from its off-shore resource. This has been a source of ongoing concern to coastal hapu.
Nonetheless, the triad of bills before parliament (TTWM, FSDA and TLAB) lock in place a binding series of covenants giving iwi direct influence and, in some instances, rights of veto over all substantive matters relating to the rohe.
In supporting legislative change, Ngati Porou become equal players in regional design, partnering local body authorities within the requirements of consultation, consensual decision-making and customary protocols upheld by law.
“The Bill seeks to place a statutory obligation on councils to invite iwi to form an iwi participation arrangement that will establish the engagement expectations when consulting during the early stages of the Schedule 1 plan making processes," says the TRONPnui Chair.