Every development, large and small, requires resource consents. The ‘mana whenua’ provisions mean Auckland will grind to a halt because no time limits and no cost constraints have been set by Council. It is a licence for iwi to blackmail and extort money from anyone needing a consent. This is already happening. It will bring iwi into disrepute and be the cause of increasing inter-racial tension as Aucklanders wake up to the reality of having their property rights taken away.
It gets worse. Not content with the 3600 sites and over 2000 sites of ecological significance requiring iwi input, there is a further blanket requirement for all Maori cultural landscapes (whatever they are?) covering potentially the whole of Auckland and New Zealand to be managed by iwi.
1400 Aucklanders have submitted against these provisions. I went along yesterday to hear some of them in front of the PAUP Hearings Panel. I heard submissions from individuals, education providers and Democracy Action, a group formed to fight the mana whenua provisions. No mainstream media were present. What I heard chilled me to the bone but a ray of hope was provided by the Democracy Action (DA) team.
The Democracy Action team was impressive. They gave a measured and balanced presentation and offered alternative approaches for the Panel to consider that are grounded in the law of the land. These would ensure all our heritage is protected without the need to resort to Council’s draconian and divisive provisions.
The team making the presentation on behalf of Democracy Action (DA) were Dr Stephen Franks, a noted constitutional lawyer and former MP, Sir Kenneth Palmer an expert in Local Government law and author of ‘Local Authorities Law in New Zealand’, Pam McMillan a commercial and public law specialist and Lee Short, founder of Democracy Action, which represents nearly 1000 members.
The main points made by the DA team on the Regional Policy Statement (RPS) were:
- We all value heritage and want to protect genuine sites but the proposed mana whenua provisions don’t do this.
- The whole process is of suspect legality and Council must start again.
- There is already adequate provision in both the RMA and the newly enacted Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014 to protect sites of significant heritage. Auckland Council simply needs to follow the law.
- If Auckland Council doesn’t think the existing legislation is adequate then it needs to mount a more rigorous assessment of sites than currently proposed.
- As is, the mana whenua provisions trample on private property rights. It is unlawful to try and extinguish these rights, but they are effectively being undermined by the ‘enabling’ provision that gives Council Officers carte blanche to require cultural impact assessments (CIAs) from property owners before the officers will process a resource consent.
- The PAUP purports to state as fact what most people would regard as ridiculous
- Council made no effort to evaluate the sites. They need to be genuinely identified and their characteristics known BEFORE they affect people and their properties.
- The buffer zone around each site has been given no justification.
- There is a self evident conflict of interest when iwi, who stand to benefit from the provisions, act as judge and jury in deciding when a site is of ‘value’ to themselves, with no provision for objection from the property owner. Tribal interests are not impartial.
- The CIAs give an opportunity for dishonesty – ie. no need to base on fact; no attempt by Council to require any credibility of those making assessments; no time frame for response; no price structure; the option of withholding consent. Mitigation’ has come to mean monetary demands
- The proposals have already devalued properties
Democracy Action founder Lee Short summed up:
- These provisions are a purely political decision.
- Council officers incorporated the provisions without warning and without adequately informing elected Councillors
- One iwi has already recorded an income of $465,000 from their RMA activities.
- The proposals bring iwi into ridicule and will lead to corrupt practices.
- Already there are reports of threats being made by some iwi that are tantamount to blackmail.
- None of these provisions were in the Draft Auckland Plan that went out for community consultation but arrived ‘suddenly and without warning’ in the PAUP
- New Zealand
- The onus has been thrust onto the site owner to prove there is NOT a site of ‘value’ on their land, whereas iwi just have to say there is - and there is.
- Council has failed to provide the mandatory cost/benefit analysis and should bear the cost of identifying the sites of significance.
Make no mistake, Auckland Council has given iwi an interest in private property rights against all the promises made by government that the Treaty of Waitangi process would not lead to this. The rule of law is undermined and iwi are bringing themselves into disrepute. As one submitter succinctly put it, these provisions are just plain wrong.
It is up to the people of Auckland to fight for their rights.
Join Democracy Action TODAY.