Principles in RMA must remain to avoid land disputes like Ihumātao - Marama Davidson

By Jessica Tyson

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson says the principles in the Resource Management Act (RMA) are needed to avoid similar land disputes like Ihumātao.

The RMA promotes sustainable management of physical and natural resources. Davidson says the Ihumātao land dispute is a good example of where the RMA process had been ignored to disastrous effect.

“The National government put RMA protections aside to shortcut and fast-track that particular project. It didn't have the proper consultation and agreement. It paid minimal regard to the long-standing historical cultural and environmental beauty dynamics of that whenua and now look what has happened," Davidson says.

“When you ignore strong process to protect public participation, protect iwi participation and protect the environment you end up with a big massive mess.”

National, Labour, New Zealand First and Act are all either pushing for a major revamp of the at or planning to scrap it altogether.

National wants to replace it with two new acts - an environmental standards act and an urban planning and development act.

Principles must remain

Meanwhile, New Zealand First's Northland candidate, Shane Jones, says for 30 years the RMA has stalled progress and done nothing to improve the environment. He says Ngāpuhi needs jobs right now and the RMA stops businesses from investing in the region.

Davidson agrees the RMA does need to be updated and says Environment Minister David Parker has been working for three years to improve the legislation.

“We can absolutely improve the processes but I think the principles need to remain of protecting the public participation for those who are most impacted.”

She also thinks the RMA must affirm the principles of Te Tiriti.

“For me, that is actually the kaitiaki and mana motuhake rights of iwi and hapū over their own whenua and taonga, she says.

“We don’t want to remove those protections for iwi, hapū, public and environmental protection.”