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Hauraki Gulf Forum 

There is more to the NZH editorial about Christine Fletcher quitting the Hauraki Gulf Forum (6 October) than meets the eye. In fact, the editorial completely misses the point, as is so often the case. 

There has long been tension between the commercial interests (including C & R) on the Forum, and David Taipari in particular representing Gulf Iwi. Council representatives sit awkwardly athwart, but David has always seen the Forum as just another vehicle to promote Treaty issues, and re-establish long absent Iwi influence over the direction of matters concerning the environmental welfare of the Gulf. It is clear that there has often been a dis-connect between the economic ambitions of those representing farming, fishing and and recreational use, and the values of environmentalists determined to use the forum as vehicle to drive major changes on farming and fishing practices, and their iwi allies. 

Christine Fletcher appears to have been a bemused observer of these antics, and finally come to the conclusion that the attempt to establish a 'steering group' with equal Iwi and non-Iwi representation to develop a spatial plan as a step too far, and a takeover by stealth. She has after all not had a happy experience of the effect of the limited 'co-governance' as devised for Auckland City. David has as usual been absent from a number of meetings, but his influence in the establishment of the 'steering group' is pretty clear, and there is no doubt that he would have used the numbers to stymie the commercial interests that have dominated to date. I reiterate what I have said on several occasions - David Taipari is no fool - he knows how democracy works - he bides his time and generally gets what he wants  - all in good time. Anyone who writes him off as 'radical', or underestinates his skills makes a big mistake.

This 'steering group' is a perfect example, and Christine will be well aware that the centrist (council?) and more supine members of the Forum have been neatly side-stepped. It will very interesting to observe from now on just just how David plans to bring forward kaitiaki influence, if not dominance on the Forum through this 'steering group'. Those who have observed his performance on the Auckland Council will be well aware that he sets the goal very high, and is then quite willing to negotiate a deal downwards to a point that he would never have achieved  had he not 'high-balled' at the outset. Classic negotiating technique that I have previously noted.

David was stymied in the end on the Service Level Agreement issue by our Council, but he has time and events on his side - Co-governance is just around the corner, and this District remains oblivious in the main to the implications of this new form of governance. The Council red-neck revolt against the SLA's was but a blimp in the progress towards much greater Marutuahu influence in the manner in which this District is run. 

If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck, then it is probably co-governance. Bring it on, and watch this space. 




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