Councils shut iwi out of planning process

By Taroi Black

Local government is locking iwi out of major decisions when it comes to resource consents, despite laws stating Māori must be part of the process. 

Ngāti Paoa Trust Board says the marina development at Kennedy Bay, Waiheke Island, has divided the iwi.

The board has now taken a case to the High Court claiming Auckland Council failed to consult it, choosing instead to deal with the iwi group that was set up to manage Ngāti Paoa's treaty settlement assets.

Board co-chair Danella Roebuck says, “The council chose to lock us out.

“... to get a resource consent when you don't get a tick off from one board but you get a tick off from our post-settlement governance entity, that's not tika (right).”

“This is not a Treaty settlement.”

Te Ao Marama News has asked Ngāti Pāoa Iwi Trust for comment.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff says the council will wait for the High Court decision before he will making any comment.

Poor consultation alleged

In Taranaki, the iwi representative on the Taranaki Regional Council consents and regulatory committee, Emily Bailey, says Māori consultation isn't working.

Bailey claims the council’s director resource management, Fred McLay, is wasting iwi settlement funds to do the mahi alongside council.

“At the moment iwi and hapu are just treated like interested parties. Consultation could be just leaving a message on the phone or emailing a massive consent application two or three days before decisions are made.”

The council receives 400 resource applications a year. Bailey says the council just needs to follow the law but relies on its working group, Te Mana Whakahono ā Rohe, to deal with iwi.

“We don't actually need that because we've got the legislation there - it's just a matter of them interpreting it correctly to allow us to be part of the process.”

Council acting chief executive Mike Nield has promised to do better.

“McLay has the absolute confidence and support of myself and the Council. McLay brings an extensive background in the Resource Management Act and to his role, and both the council and region have benefited from his dedicated service for many years" he says.

“The reality is that the RMA is a complex piece of legislation, and to do right by iwi and hapu, a considered approach to engagement is the best way forward. It might take longer but we believe that the time we are taking now will ultimately deliver a better outcome for iwi, council and the community. We just need to be patient.”