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Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area Bill

Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area Bill

Hone Harawira; Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau

22 February 2006

Since time immemorial, whanau, hapu, and iwi have been the custodians over the lands, mountains, waterways, and airspace within each tribal area. As kaitiaki we have assumed the responsibility of caring for the environment to the best of our ability, and for the benefit of all.

Noku tenei whenua, no oku tupuna

This is my land, given to me by my ancestors

Such is the thinking that guides our thoughts on the Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area Bill.

I am pleased to speak to this Bill, because the Waitakere falls within the boundaries of the Tai Tokerau.

This Bill aims to promote the natural, regional and local significance of the area extending from the Manukau Harbour to Titirangi, Karekare, Piha, Muriwai, and Tirikohua Point.

The Māori Party welcomes initiatives which provide innovative solutions to enduring environmental issues.

The challenge for us is simple - does this Bill do this?

It offers protection - but the protection of whose interests?

Is it the protection of private property rights?

Is it to protect those who have already built in the Waitakere and do not want others to join in sharing the beauty they enjoy?

Is it the protection of the rights of the Tangata Whenua?

Is it the protection of Te Taiao, which includes the flora and fauna?

Or is it the protection of jobs for the Auckland Regional Council, the Waitakere City Council, for the Rodney District Council; the Department of Conservation; or for Resource Management consultants?

And how will the voices of Ngāti Whatua ngā Rima o Kaipara; Te Taou; Te Uri o Hau; Ngāti Rongo; Kawerau a Maki; Ngāti Whatua ki Orakei and all those who share common whakapapa ties to this land, be sustained in an ongoing and meaningful way ?

Tangata whenua have a vested interest in protecting the Waitakere Ranges for generations to come, and it is their right to be party to, and to direct such measures as will ensure the wellbeing and good health of the environment.

It would be wrong to assume that when Te Taumata Runanga gave its support to the draft legislation, that this was unqualified support.

We draw the attention of the House to points raised by Ngāti Whatua Ngā Rima o Kaipara which agreed to endorse the legislation, on the condition that the provisions of clause 29c which acknowledges their existing rights, be enforced.

That clause recommends that the Act not limit or affect:

"the ability of any person to bring (or continue to bring) a claim relating to the foreshore, seabed, or other land or natural resources of the

heritage area arising out of the Treaty of Waitangi, or any Act,

or at common law, or in any other manner or

any remedy associated with such claim.

We would hope to see this clause strengthened to ensure the role of tangata whenua is maintained with the passing of this legislation. Indeed if this Bill proceeds to select committee we will do our best to ensure that the status of tangata whenua is not compromised in any way.

We are aware that Ngāti Whatua and Ngā Rima o Kaipara are involved in the partnership of iwi and local councils.

It is ironic that this Bill is being considered on a day when the spirit of partnership, which lies at the heart of the Treaty of Waitangi; is threatened by another Bill being introduced to delete principles of the Treaty of Waitangi from legislation.

While I have some sympathy with the frustration some MPs have regarding the flip flop nature of this administration towards the Treaty, eliminating the principles, such as they are, will not solve the confusion this House has towards the place of the Treaty.

The Māori Party would remind both the Member, and this House, that Te Tiriti o Waitangi did indeed establish a partnership, a covenant which imposes the duty on both partners to act reasonably, honestly and in good faith.

Within that covenant, is the commitment that Māori will retain rangatiratanga over their resources and taonga and have all the rights and privileges of citizenship. What that means, is part of the debate we are yet to have.

So it is at this point, that we turn again to the Waitakere Ranges Heritage Bill - and the concept of protection.

We will be watching this Bill to ensure the Crown's duty of active protection of Māori access and use of their lands and waters, is given life through the legislation, and if I might just make it blatantly clear, active protection means far more than consultation.

And we remind those drafters of this legislation, that the provisions of Clause 29c covers three specific land interests in which the Crown has assumed title, Kauwahia Island, Ihumoana Island and the Constable Māori Reserve, south of Tirikohua.

We also note the advice from Ngāti Whatua that clause 20 (1) of the Bill excludes them from water and allocation rights.

Ngāti Whatua holds an interest in these lands and waters, and indeed all areas considered for inclusion within the proposed bill.

The concept of protection has enduring significance to whānau, hapū and iwi; and as a consequence significance to the Māori Party.

Unfortunately over the last fifty years the environment has degraded to the extent that it needs urgent attention if it is to survive into the next century. Hopefully this Bill will encourage the management of local resources in ways that preserve our world for current and future generations.

We applaud the 'precautionary approach' described in clause 9, which aims to prevent outcomes which may impact adversely on the heritage feature, particularly the threat of serious or irreversible damage to the environment.

And we will turn to the select committee process to ensure that the adoption of such a pre-cautionary approach is supported by an education campaign to emphasize the importance of environmental wellbeing.

The issues I have raised today are all key issues for tangata whenua in their role as kaitiaki. We speak in order that the voices of our people are taken seriously, that their advice is abided by, and their perspectives help to guide further development.

I will also remind my relatives from Ngati Whatua and Te Kawerau A Maki, that the Maori Party is prepared to act as their eyes and their ears in this house. We are acutely aware of what Paora Tūhaere of Ngāti Whātua said, when he warned the hui discussing the Treaty at Kohimarama in 1860 that:

"I haria mai e Wiremu ngā paraikete. He poa ki ahau ēnei. Kāore ngā ika i mōhio he matau kei roto. I kainga te poa ka mau. Ka tūtaki ki tētahi rangatira, ka tukuna e Wiremu tana matau, ka mau he pononga mā te Kuini."

"Williams brought the blankets. This to me is a bait. The fish were unaware of the presence of a hook, they ate the bait and were snared. Then Williams upon meeting a chief then cast his hook, ensnared him, resulting in a servant for the Queen".

Likewise with this Bill, will the Waitakere Ranges be covered in the blanket of a Williams and how will we know if there are hooks concealed in the linings of the Waitakere Ranges Heritage Bill?

The Maori Party will support this Bill to the Select Committee but we will be following very closely what occurs. We look to the select committee process to see that Ngati Whatua and Te Kawerau a Maki get a fair hearing, and that they are fully involved in roundtable discussions that are reasonable, honest and in good faith.

Our further support is dependant upon the presence or otherwise of hooks in the blanket of Te Wiremu, so to speak.

To settle for less would be unthinkable.

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