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Hodgson Speech: Oceans Policy: Maori engagement

Pete Hodgson Speech: Oceans Policy: Maori engagement

[Address at hui for Oceans Policy Maori stakeholders, Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington]

Haruru te moana, ngatoro te moana Tenei nga ngaru ka whakapiki Tenei nga ngaru ka whakaheke Ko Tangaroa, Tangaroa ka hokai Kie hura i te wiwii, hura i te wawaa Taku waka, taku waka, hoe hoea, hoe hoea …

[Listen to the thundering oceans, the furious oceans, These are the waves that rise high, These are the waves that pound the shores, ‘Tis Tangaroa, behold Tangaroa as he speeds over the oceans, Let the calm be widespread, let it be soon, My waka, put forth my waka; paddle, paddle swiftly …]

Welcome to this important hui – and thank you for being here today.

In Stage One of Oceans Policy development, Defining the vision, a Ministerial Advisory Committee, led by Dame Cath Tizard, asked thousands of New Zealanders what they wanted for our oceans. I know that many if not most of you were involved in that process and made important contributions. The resulting report, Healthy Sea: Healthy Society, gave a clear insight into what New Zealanders think and feel about the sea and coast.

We recognised that the health of our oceans, our land and our people are linked. We confirmed that we value the marine environment for a huge variety of reasons and want to look after it.

You helped us identify why the Oceans Policy is of enormous interest to Maori, and why the Policy would need to provide for Maori perspectives and aspirations. Dame Cath’s team learned that there is a well-established set of values associated with the Maori world view. These values include concepts such as kaitiakitanga, mana, and rahui, to name a few.

Based on the results of the consultation process, Ministers agreed on a vision statement for the Oceans Policy. It says:

Healthy oceans: New Zealanders understand marine life and marine processes, and accordingly take responsibility for wisely managing the health of the ocean and its contribution to the present and future social, cultural, environmental and economic wellbeing of New Zealand.

Stage Two of Oceans Policy development is called Designing the vision, and involving Maori is crucial to our success in doing that. I am asking for your engagement in creating a Policy that meets all our needs.

The government wants the Oceans Policy to reflect the Maori values articulated in Stage One. There is significant overlap between these holistic values and the values underpinning the government’s commitment to sustainable development. Both sets of values are about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, and about increasing well-being over time for both people and the environment.

You could say that we’re already doing quite well with the oceans, particularly when you look at other countries. We’ve certainly got plenty of laws dealing with the marine environment. And more policy work is underway on such operational projects as recreational fishing, marine reserves and aquaculture.

I know that a number of you are here because you are interested in the aquaculture reforms. That’s understandable. But as you told us in Stage One, Oceans Policy is much bigger than aquaculture.

We do not have clear overarching principles and processes to guide us when different activities and interests come into conflict or compete for the same space in the marine environment. That is the gap the Oceans Policy will fill. This Policy is about thinking ahead, about giving ourselves the tools to manage conflicts before they get out of hand, and before increasing pressures on our oceans turn today’s problems into tomorrow’s crises.

So now I want to talk about two key things.

The first is the problems we face in achieving the vision that you helped define in Stage One. The second is what we need to do to resolve those problems.

The problems are described in the working papers that the Oceans Policy Secretariat has recently issued on Oceans Policy issues. Examples include:

fertiliser, effluent and sediment from farms and cities getting into our rivers and streams; the contamination of marine farms, such as those in Waikare Inlet in Northland; clashes between jet-skiers and other recreational users at popular beaches; increasing pressure for space and resources – especially as new technologies develop that allow us to make more use of the ocean, further and further out; the effects of fishing on other wildlife such as albatross and petrels; poaching, other illegal fishing practices and enforcement; people feeling as if they don’t have a say in decisions – especially relating to fishing and decisions beyond the territorial sea; a lack of the right information for good decision-making; and questions over public access to the coast.

I could go on – but you get the idea.

A common theme is the lack of integration between legislation, policy, decision-making, and activities in the marine environment. The problems themselves fall into four broad areas.

First, we’ve got problems with differing philosophies and inconsistent statutory approaches in our oceans management laws.

This is a result of the way we’ve set up our oceans management system piecemeal over the years.

We have 25 statutes relevant to the sea, with 14 central government agencies and all local authorities involved in their administration. There is also an array of international conventions we are obliged to implement.

Some laws deal with specific activities or sectors, such as mining or fishing; others deal with different jurisdictional boundaries, such as the territorial sea or continental shelf; and still others deal with protection, such as marine reserves, biosecurity, and species protection.

The law sets out a range of principles and purposes – which are sometimes inconsistent – and takes a variety of approaches to involving people in decision-making and conflict resolution.

Second, we’ve got problems with statutory gaps.

This is particularly obvious beyond the territorial sea, where the Continental Shelf Act does not require environmental assessment, public participation in decision-making, or the setting of monitoring requirements. Both that Act and the Fisheries Act allow for some types of ‘new’ seabed activities (e.g. mining and bioprospecting) but do not specify what activities can happen.

At the moment decisions get made in an ad hoc way. I know – I made a decision to close a seamount for fishing, and then we spent a couple of years working out what to do with a mining exploration proposal for the same seamount. The legislation didn’t give the applicants, or me, much guidance.

Good sense and goodwill can sometimes fill the gaps.

New Zealand’s only gas field beyond the territorial sea, Maui, did go through an environmental assessment – but the point is that there was no statutory requirement to do this, and there needs to be in future. Ad hoc processes discourage investment. And environmental requirements should not end simply because of an artificial boundary line in the ocean.

Third, we’ve got problems with the implementation of the existing system.

There is a wide range of tools available to address Treaty of Waitangi issues and ensure that Maori values are incorporated into oceans management and decision-making. However, there is still not much experience with how and when the various tools should be used. Both the Crown and Maori are still feeling their way – and need to learn more about which tools are best suited for different needs.

Some good tools are not being used much, or are not having the effect they were intended to have. For instance, the Fisheries Act provides for tangata whenua management of fisheries, including mataitai, taiapure and customary fishing. But these tools haven’t had a good uptake. Why? How can we do better?

Similarly, the Resource Management Act has a wide range of tools to promote integrated planning, such as the hierarchy of policy statements and plans, or provision for joint hearings and transfer of powers, including transfer to Maori. But councils say a lack of capacity and funding often prevents the system from working as we imagined it would. Maybe this is also partly to do with the level of national guidance and leadership – which is also allowed for in the Act.

Finally, information about the oceans is far from satisfactory.

We collect a lot of information on different aspects of the ocean and the management of it. But despite all that effort and cost, we are still profoundly ignorant about much of the marine environment. And we are in danger of losing some of the knowledge that we have. For instance, how can we retain and respect matauranga Maori?

All the issues being addressed in Oceans Policy are relevant to Maori.

For instance, the “encouraging new opportunities” working paper examines whether the current management system is promoting wealth creation as well as it could. The “environmental issues” paper discusses the management of human activities on the ocean. The Oceans Policy is about developing an overarching framework, with the Treaty and Maori perspectives reflected across the whole Policy.

We deal with issues special to Maori in the “Maori and Oceans Policy” working paper. Despite there being a number of tools for recognising Maori interests, you have told us, in Stage One and in other forums, about barriers to your aspirations.

I would like to briefly look at these barriers now:

management/regulatory interests: Although some of these are currently provided for, such as customary fishing, they may be hampered by other problems such as capacity; a perception that Maori views are not adequately valued by the Crown; governance and mandate: there are no clear rules (except in limited, specific circumstances) that describe where, when, how and who to consult with. Both the Crown and Maori are frustrated with mandate issues; capacity: even where both the Crown and Maori are clear about communication, the resources required for Maori to contribute meaningfully can be a significant burden, especially for consultation; protection versus sustainable development: absolute protection of areas of the marine environment in perpetuity would not generally be a feature of the Maori world view; ability to benefit from economic development: part of the reason for Maori interest in various resources stems from a desire of Maori to gain a share of the financial benefits of new space allocations, technologies and so on; traditional tools (for example, rahui): Maori are limited in their application of traditional management tools to the marine environment, particularly at a local level.

The “Maori and Oceans Policy” paper looks at how we can develop practical tools to tackle these barriers. The key challenge identified in that paper is how to develop policy that provides both flexibility and certainty.

To make progress, it seems to me that the following questions need to be asked:

How can we ensure that decision-makers have a good understanding of the implications for Maori of a particular decision? How can we ensure that decision-makers not only understand, but actually take account of, Maori perspectives? How can we ensure that settlements of past grievances that have already been achieved are not undermined? What other resource-based interests of Maori may need to be considered?

At this point I want to be particularly clear about one thing. The Oceans Policy is not about who gets ownership of our oceans. The Crown has a responsibility to govern this country’s oceans in the interests of all New Zealanders. That means ensuring that the rules and regulations controlling the myriad of marine activities work together well, and help realise the vision that New Zealanders have given us for our seas.

At times, those rules and regulations include processes or presumptions for the allocation of different rights, for various periods of time. For example:

the right to visit an area – for a walk, for a swim, to admire the view; the right to harvest something – recreationally, for customary purposes, for research, or for commercial gain; the right to explore an area; the right to extract something; the right to exclude others from an area; the right to pass across an area – for example for commercial shipping or recreational boating; the right to participate in management decisions for an area.

Some of these rights have formed part of the settlements achieved for historical Treaty of Waitangi grievances. An important touchstone for Oceans Policy is that past settlements should not be revisited. Another is the need to preserve public access to the ocean. A third is that all of these rights must be exercised consistent with the environmental sustainability of the ocean environment.

It is not appropriate to decide, here and now, how to give rights to the use and control of the many different resources in the ocean. But what the Oceans Policy should do is set out clear overarching principles and processes to guide decisions about use of the marine environment, to inform the development of the various different regulatory regimes, and to ensure that the systems we use for allocating rights are appropriate for New Zealand.

This is why it is important that you are here. I want us all working together to get these principles and processes right.

Today you will be talking about all these matters. We want to hear your responses. Are we asking the right questions? Are there others? What tools are currently being used that are relevant to these questions? Are they working? If not, why not? What other tools might we be able to develop?

I would urge you to get stuck into the working papers. Read them. Comment on them. Let the Secretariat know what you think.

Over the next few months, we’ll use the problems identified in the working papers to come up with options and preferences for a draft Oceans Policy. That document – due by mid-year – will reflect our collective values in the sea, and indicate how we might prioritise particular values at different times. So when multiple demands come into conflict, there should be a clear process for making informed choices and trade-offs between them.

Of course, no one set of answers will last forever. Public policy inevitably evolves as values and knowledge change. Having said that, the work over the next few months is likely to begin shaping the management of our oceans for the next 50 years or more. That really underlines the importance – and the potential longevity – of what we’re doing now.

In Oceans Policy we have to let go of the approach so often taken to public policy issues, which is to identify the interests of your sector, constituency, iwi, corporate, membership, or whatever, then lobby hard for the policy that will maximise those interests with little or no regard for others. Claimant and adversarial behaviour will not work this time.

So on that note, I welcome your assistance in helping us to design the vision for New Zealand’s Oceans Policy.

Then I will look forward to our working together in the third stage of the project, Delivering the vision. That’s where we will get to implement stuff, and to deliver a Policy with the practicality and buy-in to be enduring. We should also aim to produce a world-leading model of sustainable development in action.

We want to get Oceans Policy right, and with your continued productive engagement in the process, we will.

Ka tika a uta Ka tike a tai

[If all is right on land, Thus will the sea be cared for]

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