Taranaki iwi negotiators' hard-fought efforts for equal say in co-governance revealed

By Kelvin McDonald
Photo / File

Iwi negotiators are making headway hammering out the finer detail of the co-governance arrangements for Taranaki Maunga and the national park, Te Papakura o Taranaki, a report by Local Democracy Reporting for RNZ has revealed.

It has been decided a new group, Te Tōpuni Kōkōrangi, will develop management plans for Te Papakura o Taranaki. Half the members will be appointed by iwi and half by the Crown.

Their plans will then require joint approval from the Conservation Minister and Te Tōpuni Ngarahu, comprising representatives from the eight iwi of Taranaki.

Iwi negotiators share some of the challenges they have faced in ironing out the detail of the collective redress deed in the RNZ report.

They say equal say for iwi in the co-governance has been hard-fought and has come despite pushback by the Crown and initial reluctance to adequately fund iwi to do the work being negotiated.

"The key here is actually giving life to this treaty partnership… The thing we had a whole lot of pushback on is that the management plan is approved by the Minister of Conservation and ngā iwi o Taranaki," lead negotiator Jamie Tuuta says.

Normally, this is led by DOC and conservation boards and signed off by the New Zealand Conservation Authority, but without Māori decision-making involved, the report says.

Negotiator Liana Poutu said funding had also been hard-won, with the Crown insisting financial compensation was final under individual iwi settlements. The team, however, argued iwi needed to be properly resourced for co-governance. 

"We were initially offered nine million… and where we landed was 20 million as a final offer from the Crown."

Iwi negotiators knew this would not be enough to sustain the work into the future and so Poutu says they put the talks on hold. Now, they have been offered a much-improved package.

"We've got a Crown offer and what we've agreed is 35 million dollars… to go along with this package and do all the things set out there."

The collective redress deed is likely to be initialled early next month and then go to iwi for ratification by October, before a signing event in December.

A bill formalising matters is expected to be introduced to parliament in March next year.