Ngāti Wai chair Aperahama Kerepeti- Edwards has taken offence at what his iwi calls a lack of consultation by the government
The Department of Conservation’s marine policy manager says DoC is saddened to hear Ngāti Wai is upset with the engagement process during the design of the Sea Change Government Response Strategy for the Hauraki Gulf but says the iwi was involved and consulted.
On Tuesday Ngāti Wai leaders said they were “gobsmacked” to be left out of the plan to revitalise Hauraki Gulf
DoC's Sam Thomas said engaging with mana whenua was of utmost importance. “Particularly given the prior mistakes of the Crown in consultation, we respect their frustrations and appreciate their ongoing willingness to engage with us in these processes.”
He said DoC engaged with Ngāti Wai at many steps through the strategy process, according to best practice and the consultation protocols laid out in the engagement framework by Te Arawhiti.
Ngāti Wai had been contacted in 2018 after the Cabinet agreed to establish a ministerial advisory committee to assist in developing a response to the Sea Change Plan.
Iwi took part
The iwi and hapū stakeholders "were contacted following advice from the Office of Treaty Settlements. Following public nominations in 2019, a member of Ngāti Wai served on the committee until the process was completed in September 2020.
“Feedback was sought on the draft Government Response Strategy in 2020; we were advised by the Ngāti Wai Trust Board that it was using a consultant. This consultant received an information pack and was engaged in a meeting shortly after, in which they gave their feedback and very helpful supplementary material afterwards.”
Thomas said DoC highly valued the contributions made by Ngāti Wai to the Sea Change Government Response Strategy.
“It’s disappointing to hear there are some misunderstandings in the process and we will be following up with Ngāti Wai to understand how this can be avoided in future engagement processes.
“We very much look forward to engaging further as we progress proposals for marine protection and the Hauraki Gulf fisheries plan. “
On Tuesday Ngāti Wai chair Aperahama Kerepeti- Edwards said as iwi mana whenua of Hauraki Gulf his iwi was offended to wake up to television news announcing a new Crown-led strategy in which Ngāti Wai was not included in the design and development.
The government had announced 18 new marine protected areas that would be created with the goal of bringing back the health of the Hauraki Gulf. In the strategy, Revitalising the Gulf – Government action on the Sea Change Plan, Oceans and Fisheries Minister David Parker said the Crown had drawn on input from mana whenua, local communities and industry.
But Kerepeti-Edwards said Tikapa Moana Te Moananui a Toi was a hugely significant part of Ngāti Wai’s rohe, its whakapapa, its people, “and the islands within it are sacred to us as one of the mana whenua iwi in the Hauraki Gulf”.
“We support the intent of the strategy as kaitiaki but clearly there has been a Crown engagement failure here”.
“The Crown is currently drafting a letter of apology to Te Poari o Ngāti Wai for its lack of consultation with us in the overlapping claims process with Hauraki iwi. We are shocked to find that yet again it has left us out of the conversation.”
Ink not dry on apology
Te Poari o Ngāti Wai Raukura CEO Hūhana Lyndon said the Crown had a responsibility to engage with all iwi mana i te whenua of the Hauraki Gulf as per the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act 2000.
“The ink is not even dry on their current Crown apology for breaching our rights guaranteed through Te Tiriti o Waitangi and now we have this. We are gobsmacked.”
Ngāti Wai deputy chairman and Auckland Council mana whenua kaitiaki forum representative Martin Cleave said, “None of the members of the Hauraki Gulf Forum has come back to tangata whenua or us as iwi to consult with us and in this proposal. They do not represent Te Iwi o Ngātiwai.”
“Ngati Wai has a massive footprint in the Hauraki Gulf, yet the Crown continues to leave us in the dark which is an insult,” Cleave said.