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Hauraki Gulf Forum Governance Review

The proposals for this Review go to Council as one of the constituent local body members of the Forum next week. It is proposed that they “lie on the table’ to await the incoming post-election Council.

What is really concerning is the undemocratic nature of the proposals that appear to have been heavily influenced by the manu whenua members that currently represent iwi on the Forum.

I question whether non manu whenus members, and government / local government appointees have been intimidated into accepting these recommendations. Otherwise, it appears a major departure from past practice and standard democratic principles that have governed the manner in decisions related to our very existence have been taken in the past. Peter French was our representative on the Forum.

Here are the “guiding principles that were adopted to “inform the review”:

  1. Respecting, and accommodating, existing and future Treaty settlements
  2. Requiring the current approach to the governance of the Forum needing to reflect contemporary best practice
  3. The future governance model of the Forum should be based on ‘influence’ rather than ‘representation’
  4. The Forum should employ the concept of Rangatira to Rangatira, and should be made up of influential leaders with the Crown playing a greater role
  5. Governance of the Forum needs to be simplified and focussed on the purpose of the Forum

And here are the Recommendations that resulted from the recent deliberations of the Forum:

(a) That particular attention is paid to Treaty settlements and the current Treaty settlement processes, and the Sea Change Tai Timu Tai Pari process, alongside this governance review process

(b) That the governance model for the Forum is changed to a co-governance approach, comprising equal numbers of mana whenua and other members

(c) That mana whenua appoint their members directly through a process designed and approved by mana whenua

(d) That the size of the Forum is reduced to 16 members

(e) That the Forum membership is made up as follows:

  • 8 members appointed by mana whenua
  • 5 members appointed by the Minister of Conservation (for example political, business, community or NGO leaders rather than Crown representatives)
  • 3 members appointed by local authorities (1 form each of the Auckland Council, Waikato Regional Council and the territorial authorities collectively) – these may or may not be elected members.

     (Note: current representation is as follows:

  • 1 representative appointed each by the Minister of Conservation, the Minister of Fisheries and the Minister of Maori Affairs 
  • 7 representatives appointed by the Auckland Council                                                                
  • 1 representative appointed by each of the following - Hauraki, Matamata Piako, Thames Cormandel, Waikato District & Waikato Regional Councils.
  • 6 representatives of the tangata whenua of the Hauraki Gulf and its islands appinted by the Minister afetr consultation with the tangata whenua and Minister of Maori Affairs                                            

(f)  That the term of appointments be 3 years with the ability to reappoint up to a maximumnumber of terms to be agreed, with a staggering of terms to ensure that there is some continuity of knowledge across terms

(g) That in addition to the other changes recommended in this report, the Forum undertakes a process to promote a clear understanding of and focus on the governance task of the Forum, including the relevant purpose, objective and function provisions of the Hauraki Gulf Marin Park Act 2000

(h) That any reform of the governance arrangements for the Forum should include provision for the Forum to have more statutory authority and a stronger and more direct role in terms of statutory decision making over the Hauraki Gulf

(i)  That, as an interim step, the Forum creates a smaller ‘core group’ of 12 members to drive more focussed and strategic governance for the Forum,, and at the same time advances a case for legislative amendment to the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act 2000

(j)  That the Chief Executives of the local authorities and relevant ministries/departments work together to implement these recommendation immediately following the 2016 triennial local authority elections

It is probably un-surprizing that no agreement was reached on this far-reaching and quite unusual proposal – even more un-democratic that the Waikato River Agreement, and which will indeed ratchet up nanu whenua control of what happens in the Gulf.

After all, it would take only one Government manu whenua appointee to swing the entire balance, and I believe cause grave concern in the mind of every fair minded citizen of this country who holds dear the democratic principles by which have lived for 150 year, regardless of the disgraceful injustices that have been visited upon the indigenous population.  

Such injustices as have occurred cannot simply be corrected by handing control of the instruments of governance to unelected rangitira as implied in this document. The influence of David Taipari and Paul Majurey are all over these proposals.

Hopefully, the incoming Council will have sufficient nous to understand the implications of what is being proposed here, and bring some semblance of common sense to the table.  This is one reason why we need someone like Sandra Goudie in our corner.




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