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Hauraki Gulf Forum Update

Michael Coote's article in this week's NBR on the 2016 Review & Recommendations is a timely reminder of the utter naivety of our current Mayoral candidate, Peter French who as our representative on the Forum allowed a document to go forward to members that emasculated our influence on future developments. Read my earlier post on the subject to see just how this was to be achieved.

In the meantime, here is M. Coote's article:

"A pressing local body election issue has arisen with respect to the economically significant Hauraki Gulf Forum (HGF).

According to Auckland Council’s website, the HGF is “a statutory body, which promotes and facilitates integrated management and the protection and enhancement of the Hauraki Gulf, under the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act 2000. It is administered by Auckland Council.”

The 21-member HGF has 12 elected local body representatives fromAuckland Council, Hauraki District Council, Waikato Regional Council,Waikato District Council Matamata-Piako District Council and Thames-Coromandel District Council.

The rest of the HGF is made up of six “tangata whenua” members appointed by the Minister of Conservation, plus three central government officials, one each from the Department of Conservation, the Ministry for Primary Industries and Te Puni Kokiri. The composition is 57% elected local authority, 29% Maori and 14% central government.

The Maori component is inflated relative to the small proportion of Hauraki Gulf tribes in the wider population of the region.

The HGF’s local authority members must urgently explain to the public why, in June, they resolved to begin immediate implementation of the Governance Review & Recommendations Report “following the 2016 triennial local authority elections.”

This report, commissioned by the HGF, recommends the forum should be restructured into a race-based co-governance executive authority made up of 16 members:
• eight directly appointed by Hauraki Gulf Maori tribes;
• five appointed by the Minister of Conservation, not as Crown representatives,but instead as “political, business or NGO leaders;” and
• three selected by local authorities, “one from each of the Auckland Council, Waikato Regional Council and the territorial authorities collectively – these may or may not be elected members.”

The proposed co-governance HGF would be comprised of 50% Maori, 31% non-Crown and 19% local authority (elected or unelected).

Maori agenda
HGF agendas and minutes praise this racial gerrymander as Treaty of Waitangi-derived contemporary “best practice” intended to gain “teeth” so that it would actually control the Hauraki Gulf under the Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari Stakeholder Working Group’s pending marine spatial plan.

Maori tribes would effectively be in charge of the Hauraki Gulf because other HGF members would be relatively weakened, especially local authorities.

The non-representative entity would not reflect demographic realities of residents and ratepayers across the Hauraki Gulf region nor serve or protect their legitimate interests.

This would automatically disenfranchise in excess of one third of New Zealand’s total population living in the wider Hauraki Gulf region.

Bringing the co-governance model into full effect requires parliamentary amendment of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act, but this can be arranged according the report.

The origin of this race-based plan is an external review completed in June 2015 by Dr Nigel Bradley that, “recommended strengthening of governance capacity to enable the [HGF] to more effectively promote the management objectives of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act.”

Subsequently, “A working group of Paul Beverley (lawyer and independent chairman of the Tai Timu Tai Pari Sea Change [sic] Stakeholder Working Group), Vaughan Payne (chief executive, Waikato Regional Council) and Mark Maloney (head of audit, Auckland Council) was commissioned to prepare advice.

“This group was instructed to seek input from [HGF] deputy chair Liane Ngamane and Mook Hohneck to understand tangata whenua perspectives” for the Governance Review & Recommendations Report.

Local authority HGF members apparently got cold feet as elections drew nigh. In July, chairman Tregidga emailed them, “While I’m aware that impending elections may curtail decisions, it would be useful to hear views about the recommended direction and/or alternative arrangements or additional principles that can enhance our work in the next term.”

In August he emailed, “[F]rom feedback I have had from a number of you, I will be suggesting at our next forum meeting [in September] that any decision on the future of the governance of the HGF be held off and dealt with by the new forum post elections.”

The September agenda reveals external objections received to the planned restructuring.

Voters in Auckland, Hauraki, Waikato, Thames-Coromandel and Matamata-Piako should be asking their local authority election candidates where they stand on the future role and composition of the HGF."

It was encouraging that the alternative candidate - Sandra Goudie finally came out to highlight an important point of difference in her HH campaign advertisement yesterday by indicating her total opposition to the recommendations.

Keep that in mind as you fill in your voting forms. The recommendations may have John Tregidga's support, but the naivety of both he and French that would have sold us down the river, in more ways that one, needs highlighting. And incidentally, Dirk Sieling was also a member of the Forum that wrote those recommendations.




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