'Bizarre', ministers confronted over climate reforms

By Whatitiri Te Wake

With additional reporting from Tina Wickliffe.

Māori have long been reliant on forestry for economic prosperity and some landowners say the changes to climate change legislation will have a detrimental impact on the welfare of their people.

Despite yesterday’s deluge in Wellington, Māori leaders met face to face with government ministers to express their outrage. Māori landowner Chris Karamea Insley says the Emission Trading Scheme doesn’t take into account the impact this will have on Māori communities.

“It's just a bizarre position we find ourselves in as Māori, having to come all the way to Wellington to have a discussion with the ministers and say, 'Just do the right thing, what's best for us, all of New Zealanders',” he said.

These leaders aren't convinced that their interests have been taken into account. Sir Toby Curtis, former chair of the Te Arawa Lakes Trust, is certain that the legislation is another example of the Crown dictating what Māori should do with Māori land.

“Ahua pukuriri ahau ana e hiahia ana ratau ki te tuku atu ki etahi Pākehā ke, ana hei whakapau era moni, kare e homai ki a taua, ana kia tipu i ngā rakau ki runga i o tatau whenua. Koina kei te ahua riri au ki nga mahi a te pakeha nei ki te takahi ra i a tatau.”

“I'm angry about them wanting to give it to Pākehā to spend the money, not giving it to us to grow the trees on our land. I'm angered at what they're doing, stomping on our mana,” he said.


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The changes to the emissions trading scheme will see plantation forests no longer eligible for carbon credits, with the government turning away from pine and exotic species

“Ta ratau hiahia me tuku atu ngā moni, a tatau moni a te kawantanga ki nga tangata o tawahi, ki etahi whenua ke, kare e aro mai ki a taua, ki a tatau, i te mea kei a tatau nga whenua hei tipu i nga rakau nei.”

“They want to send the credits overseas - our credits - to people overseas. They aren't thinking about us, we're the ones with the lands to grow the trees,” Curtis said.

Government ministers understand the frustration - and are set on getting to a place of understanding for Māori. Climate Change Minister James Shaw said the key was working together to get a common resolution.

“Probably the most significant thing to come out of it as next steps is a commitment to work together to find a way through the issues that are presented.”

Despite previously threatening legal action against the Crown, the Māori landowners are keen to work towards a solution that sees Māori interests upheld.