Sir Bob was speaking yesterday to a meeting, attended by around 250 of us, organised by ‘Democracy Action’, a group dedicated to protecting democratic principles. The Group is fighting the 'mana whenua' provisions in the PAUP which were described as a step too far in the abuse of tribal privilege created through the Treaty of Waitangi industry.
The mana whenua provisions relate to compulsory ‘cultural values assessments’ that have to be obtained from up to 19 iwi in order to obtain a resource consent. It will have a severe impact on most property values throughout Auckland because each of the 3600 sites specified in the PAUP as having ‘significance’ to Maori has a 200 metre zone around them. I wrote a blog about this last March “Beware the Taniwha at the bottom of your garden” but it has taken the impact on a public figure, Sir Bob Jones, to highlight the appalling situation now facing property owners and developers around Auckland. It is also the thin end of the wedge because the same provisions are being planned for every Council in New Zealand.
On the one hand the meeting was depressing as first Sir Bob and then constitutional lawyer Stephen Franks described the undermining of democracy that has been going on for decades through the Treaty of Waitangi process, the Resource Management Act, successive National led governments and, especially in the last four years, through Auckland Council with their rule by decree (PAUP).
Stephen Franks described the difficulty he had in getting any lawyers of judges to speak out at the meeting. Why? In a nutshell they are afraid. And when the judiciary is afraid then you know there is something very rotten in the state of New Zealand.
We learned of the fear of lawyers to speak out for the most venal of reasons. They enjoy lucrative contracts with Auckland Council and if they do not kowtow to the prevailing, all consuming, cultural correctness of Council their firms will lose business.
There can be no doubt New Zealand is a long way down the road to serfdom as forty years of the Treaty of Waitangi industry has led to the creation of a rich tribal elite of feudal barons who enjoy privileges denied the rest of us and particularly denied to the ordinary members of the tribes.
There is no doubt Council officers have misled their elected representatives by withholding important information on which to base their decisions. The officers have their own agenda which is to deny elected representatives any real voice in running Auckland. They would rather deal with the unelected Maori Statutory Board on whom they intend to confer co-governance status with 50% of the say on all Council matters.
On the other hand the meeting held a ray of hope. 1100 have submitted against the mana whenua provisions. Many of them had come to the meeting to receive help on how to make their presentations in front of the Hearings Panel, due to meet soon to consider the PAUP submissions. Stephen Franks offered the ray of light that maybe, just maybe, these mana whenua provisions are a step too far, the straw that breaks the camels back.
He said the provisions represent a poisoned chalice for iwi. The fees they will charge are trivial compared to the administrative costs they themselves will incur, they will have to invent ‘taniwha’ in order to justify their own existence, offence will be taken, iwi will bear the resulting odium of the public. This was even recognised by a member of Ngati Whatua’s elite during an interview on TV1 last night about the meeting.
Perhaps the bigger problem for iwi will be the resulting in-fighting as they compete with each other for the most lucrative pickings. Now wasn’t that exactly what the Treaty of Waitangi was signed to avoid?
“Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”