In a stunning victory for democracy, the Independent Hearings Panel has recommended that Cultural Impact Assessment requirements (the Taniwha Tax) in the Auckland Unitary Plan be removed along with the 3600 proposed ‘sites of significance’.
The Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance and NZ Taxpayers’ Union have issued the following media release
COMPREHENSIVE VICTORY IN UNITARY PLAN "TANIWHA TAX" CAMPAIGN
JOINT MEDIA RELEASE BY THE NEW ZEALAND TAXPAYERS' UNION AND THE AUCKLAND RATEPAYERS' ALLIANCE
27 JULY 2016
The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union and its sister group, the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance, are celebrating a comprehensive victory in their “Taniwha Tax” campaign, with the Independent Hearings Panel recommending that Cultural Impact Assessment requirements, and the scheduled “sites of value” be deleted from the Unitary Plan.
In April last year, the groups joined Democracy Action and the Auckland Property Investors Association in launching a briefing paper on the draft plan’s Mana Whenua Cultural Impact Assessment provisions.
“The Taniwha Tax is dead!” says Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams. “Not only has the Independent Panel removed the ridiculous provisions covering ‘metaphysical’ issues – in other words the make-believe – it has completely rejected the Council’s recommendations for even more onerous requirements than those which were in the draft Unitary Plan.”
“It’s a win for democracy, for protecting Auckland’s genuine cultural heritage, and for science-based planning.”
Jo Holmes, Spokesperson for the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance, says: “This is the most significant win to date for our 16,500 members across Auckland. Our campaign exposed that many of the 3,600 sites deemed of cultural value didn’t even exist and the Council didn’t bother to check.”
“We welcome the Panel’s recommendations, and look forward to the Council's adoption of them,” concludes Ms Holmes.
The relevant recommendations are included in the Panel’s Report to Auckland Council - Hearing topic 009 - Mana Whenua (refer to chapters 6 and 7).
The provisions required ratepayers to cross the palms of up to 19 local iwi with silver to get their approval before Council’s own resource consent process started. This would have added thousands to building costs further adding to the housing affordability problem in Auckland.
The Archaeological Association said what Auckland Council was doing was not even necessary to protect heritage because it is already covered under specific legislation.
This is also a victory for Lee Short of Democracy Action whose members did what Auckland Council should have done and investigated each site, many of which were impossible to find, were concreted over, or were under rubbish dumps.
On a personal note, this victory for common sense encourages me, as media spokesperson for the ARA and our 16000 members, to continue the fight against Auckland Council's culture of waste and its treatment of ratepayers as cash cows to be milked dry.
The Independent Hearings Panel is to be congratulated for listening to the many submissions from ratepayers who spoke eloquently of this assault on their property rights and the undermining of democracy inherent in this money grabbing rort by local iwi and Auckland Council.