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Paul Majurey & Tupuna Maunga Authority

All has been very quiet around the traps of recent days, but the release of details of THE SETTLEMENT cannot be too far away. Every resident of the District should be familiarising him or herself as to us how things are likely to operate when the co-governance provisions come into operation – in particular, just how our Council will be required to work hand in glove with whatever the Hauraki Collective puts in place to hold up their side of any Agreement.

For a hint as to how this may operate, it may be instructive to pay particular attention to the Geoff Chapple Article in this week’s Listener on the operation of the Tupuna Maunga Authority (overseeing Auckland’s volcanic cones), and chaired by the redoubtable Paul Majurey. [My apologies - I cannot establish the link with the Listener for some reason - Bauer Media appear to be blocking it!]

For those readers who are not entirely familiar with Paul Majurey, perhaps it should be pointed out that he also chaired the Tai Timu Pari Hauraki Hauraki Gulf Marine Spatial Plan -Sea Change that was approved in November 2016, but the adoption of which by the Hauraki Gulf Forum chaired by John Tredigda has now been put off until June this year.  It ran into strife in February when our Mayor suggested some substantial improvements, and I guess they are working their way through the process at present.

In each case – the Sea Change, and the Maunga Authority have statutory powers, and in the case of the latter, those powers appear to be being exercised in a rather ruthless manner by the chair – Paul Majaurey. And just who is Paul Majauarey I hear you ask? He a lawyer (LLB Hons), and a former senior partner in top law firm – Russell McVeigh, and now practices on his own account as a partner in Atkins Holm Majaurey (AHM)

More importantly, he is Ngati Maru, with connections to Ngati Whanaunga, Ngati Tamatera, and Ngati Paou (Marutuahu), is co-negotiator for Ngati Maru with Wally Ngamane on the Hauraki Collective, which he also chairs. All in all Paul is very busy when it comes to treaty settlements and environment law issues – particularly as they pertain to Maori. He is also an extremely close confidant of David Taipari who heads up Ngati Maru, and who for the last two terms has chaired the Maori Statutory Board of Auckland City Council. 

The consequential prestige flowing from this role for Ngati Maru and Murutuahu should not be underestimated. Between them, David and Paul are predominant in Maori affairs in this part of the country, regardless of the fact that Ngati Whatua have already achieved the direct benefits, and in particular the cash-flow of their settlement. Hauraki will settle shortly, and the benefits of waiting until they achieved all they wanted cannot be underestimated. It will have been a lucrative, if frustrating wait for many of its members.

Why I have explained Paul Majurey’s ubiquitous involvement in virtually every aspect of the settlement and its consequences both here and in Auckland is because Geoff Chapple gave an extremely good oversight of just how he operates, and we have no reason to believe that his involvement here would be any different.

The operations of The Tupuna Maunga Authority are shrouded in secrecy according to Chapple – no agenda, no minutes, and more importantly no explanations, simply dictat. In answer to whether it is the intention of the Authority to lock the gates on the other four maunga (Victoria, One Tree Hill, Albert, Roskill and Wellington) before the end of the year as has happened at Maungawhau (Mt Eden), his answer was simply “Yes.” No need for discussion.  “This is what Maori want” he states, but the article reveals that there are many who believe otherwise including Hone Mutu Retimans, a prominent North Shore kaumatua. He is one who is extremely critical of the decision as it effects Takarunga (Mt Victoria).

A Herald Digipoll in January 2015 showed 58% of Aucklanders favoured the Maungawhau closure, but only 28 % favoured extending closure to other maunga. Mangawhau had  particular problems with hundreds of buses disgorging tourists on the landmark, but push-back appears to be growing as the TMA action elsewhere begins to hit home.

Majarey on the other hand has no concerns. He told Chapple that Local Boards had no say in the matter - "In terms of our specific statute, there is no process for objection." Though he does concede that anyone can go to the High Court - yeah right! This is despite an assurance from Treaty Minister Chris Finlayson in June 2012 that "There will be no change s to existing public access and use rights."

According to Majurey, "The Treaty Settlement (Ngati Whatua) puts the Maori view at its very centre. The governance of the maunga is equal between the council and the mana whenua, and Tupuna Maunga Authority makes its decisions in accordance with its statutory purpose." So this is apparently what 'equality' represents in Paul Majurey's view, or is it simply that he and his Authority fly under the Auckland Council radar?

Majurey proceeds to argue that “The colonists, then, had their turn, and now Maori have theirs." He appears to reject any complaint about lack of consultation and those who disagree with the changes  which are due to be implemented before the end of the year. All the other maunga will follow as funding allows in coming years. Leaving aside the degree of difficulty that applies in regard to walking access to each of the cones, it is actually the attitude of Majurey that I find of greater significance as we approach co-governance in this District. 

Majurey reverted to the "pedestrian danger" argument when confronted with concerns expressed about access by Grey Power and others. A grotesque suggestion of coded locks with codes provided to worthy applicants by Council bureaucrats raises practical questions, and Hone Mutu Retimana for one simply rejects the proposition that cars should be restricted from going up Takuranga (Mt Victoria) 

But what is of far greater importance as far as we are concerned should be the contempt displayed by Majurey for normal consultative processes, and the dictatorial manner in which he (and presumably the other members of his Authority) have displayed in regard to the manner in which these rules have been and are being imposed throughout the Auckland Isthmus.

What is unanswerable is that the Government, through the Treaty process has allowed this situation to develop with provisions that enable tribes to determine exactly how leadership and authority is be established. The example of Majurey in the TMA should not be underestimated when it comes to the manner in which co-governance is implemented here. It will set in stone financial and political clout that extends well beyond the tribe into the use of natural resources and planning processes of the reformed RMA. This clout is totally devoid of transparency and accountability.    

I trust that there will be adequate safeguards put in place in regard to the manner in which co-governance operates in this District, but fear that such are beyond us, based on what information has already leaked about the content of the Settlement.  On the face of it we have every right to be fearful, and both Finlayson and Nick Smith need to be held to account. I for one will not be climbing aboard Finlayson's guilt trip express. 


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