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Thursday
Apr162015

Concern Over Hauraki Settlement Delay 

Further concerns over the delayed Hauraki Settlement are emerging with the release today of a Taxpayer's Union report, prepared with a number of other concerned not for profits entitled "The Taniwha Tax."

This report has been prepared specifically related to the situation that has developed in Auckland City with the advent of the new Mana Whenua Rules covering Cultural Impact Assesments(CIA's!) to be exercised by a multitude of iwi manu whenua groups virtually without debate, or appeal provisions. These arrangements were negotiated with the Independent Maori Statutory Board (chaired by none other than our own David Taipari).

These are the effects outlined in the Report: (enacted under the terms of the Unitary Authority, and enforceable immediately)

  • some 18,000+ properties in Auckland are affected (and most of the owners don’t know);
  • how the sites Auckland Council designated as ‘of value to Mana Whenua’ it didn’t bother to even check existed;
  • how the tax will increase the costs of housing, electricity, communications and infrastructure;
  • how the decision of whether you’ll need a ‘Cultural Impact Assessment’ is left up to the Mana Whenua groups – i.e. those who get to charge for providing the Cultural Impact Assessment reports;
  • how there are no limits on conflicts of interest, the amounts that can be charged, or the time taken for Mana Whenua groups to provide a Cultural Impact Assessment;
  • how the Council has set up a framework so that it cannot overrule Cultural Impact Assessments (nor can they be appealed);
  • that real life resource consents may be declined (or have expensive conditions attached) for wholly metaphysical (i.e. spiritual) reasons; and
  • how even the Archaeological Association says these rules aren’t necessary for protecting heritage.

You may ask - what does this have to do with us?

It is pretty simple really - we have not been permitted to know the content of the Settlement, and in particular the content of the Co-governance provisions that are vital in terms of just how this District will operate in the future, and the relationship that will be imposed regarding representation, revenue and joint decision making.

There is no argument that substantial change is necessary to give effect to the Treaty, and provide for adequate involvement of local iwi in the manner in which this District operates in the future, but it would be naive in the extreme to imagine that David Taipari and his cohort (Ngarimu Blair of Ngati Whatua in particular) who have been so successful in obtaining the provisions from the Unitary Authority outlined above, would not have sought and probably obtained similar provisions through the Treaty Settlement for this District.

Either way, there apears no sound reason for us to be kept in the dark any longer. Regardless of internecine litigation between tribes on the sidelines, there appears no good reason why the Co-governance provisions cannot be revealed and debated right now. Then and only then we will be able to see if Mr Taipari et al have been equally successful in securing arrangements that give iwi the equivalent control (effectively taxing arrangements) that the Independent Statutory Authority has obtained in Auckland. 

And let it be known that Chief Auckland Planner Dr Roger Blakely has been instrumental in devising, and eventual adoption of these arrangements by Auckland Council. It seems that this has been achieved quietly and effectively alongside the said David Taipari, and both have been extremely modest and reticent in taking credit for these  onerous provisions. Dr Blakely has now departed for pastures new, and a new Chief Planner has been appointed to oversea what are effectively 'embedded' enactments.

And further let it be said that protestations that the iwi organisations administering the whenua side of the Cultural Impact Assessmenst (CIA's!) will be co-operative, and seek "minimal" recompense for their efforts in carrying out their tasks are barely credible when viewed through the prism of what may happen in the future. Remember that their decisions and charges are entirely self generated without any prospect of appeal, let alone reversal. 

The remarkable state of affairs must surely be without parallel or precedent in this country at least, and raises some real concerns regarding the level of additional costs of development through delays and arbitrary determinations, let alone the possibility of downright skulduggery creeping into the processes being used.

I raise this issue simply in order to flag this distinct possibility that we will be subjected the same, or similar being enacted though the Settlement, or through subsidiary provisions that our representatives barely understand, let alone able to foretell possible long-term effects. If it has been possible for what appears to be almost extra-judicial arrangements to be pulled through the Auckland Council in this manner, what hope is their for rational and reasonable consideration of the provisions emerging through our Settlement.

The mind boggles, but we must not deviate from ensuring that our Settlement is sustainable, reasonable and capable of being accepted by all sections of the community not only now, but into the future. The Cultural Impact Assessments described in the Taxpayer Union paper do not give confidence that this will be a given, let alone possible.

 

 

 

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