Treaty partnership that never 'existed' could solve climate change

By Taroi Black

Coronavirus worries have delayed NZ's plan to be a carbon-neutral country by 2050.

The government has pushed the release of its Emission Reduction Plan out by another six months as it had intended to start the plan in October.

But it will include key stakeholders, including iwi/Māori in the government’s plan, which has been a significant move, Climate Change Minister James Shaw says.

“Up until this point that hasn't really existed.”

The Treaty partnership involvement was a late addition to the Climate Change Commission's recommendations to the government. 

The final Emission Reduction Plan will set the agenda for the country's first emissions budget.

But it has been an uphill battle for iwi Māori when it comes to resource consents that have impacts on the environment and biodiversity. 

Earlier this week, the tide began to turn as a unanimous decision by independent Auckland Council commissioners declined Waste Management's application to establish a landfill precinct over 1000ha of land in Dome Valley, North Auckland even though they earlier agreed to a landfill there.

Environment Minister David Parker talks about the Natural and Built Environments Act.

Now, the government is scrapping the 30-year-old Resource Management Act, and replacing it with the Natural and Built Enviroments Act, which will include three pieces of legislation.

It’s now before a select committee. It wants to encourage more Māori to contribute and have a say in the drafting of this important bill. 

Shaw is also a member of a Cabinet group overseeing the RMA reform. He's promising that as the Natural and Built Enviroments Bill is tweaked, there will be more inclusions of Māori concerns.

“I've actually being pleased at the joined up thinking that I’m seeing coming through in relation to climate change”, he said. “But also how we adapt to the effects of climate change that are already happening, which Māori are experiencing in different ways.”

But Shaw couldn't say if it would be a simple process for Māori.

“That's not being an easy thing to land because Māori don't have a single view what that it should look like. And how do you translate Māori and English in legal terms?”

Te Ao Mārama speaks to Tākuta Ferris about Māori inclusion to the RMA reform.