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Te Ururoa Flavell: Climate Protection

Speech: Te Ururoa Flavell: Climate Protection

Resource Management (Climate Protection) Amendment Bill 29 March 2006

Mr Speaker. References to our physical world are made in speeches on our marae throughout the country everyday. We say for example,

E haunui ana i raro, e hari ana i runga It is blowing below, but the sky is clear.

E hoki ki to maunga kia purea ai koe e nga hau a Tawhirimatea. Return to your mountain to be cleansed by the winds of Tawhirimatea ...

Mr Speaker, the Maori Party is pleased that the Resource Management (Climate Protection) Amendment Bill is introduced into the House today for it is one bill which forces this Parliament to really come to terms with global concerns.

It is an issue that tangata whenua can provide significant expertise in, given our intimate association with the world around us.

Traditional Maori knowledge of weather and climate, and of associated activities such as gardening and fishing, guide us in how to understand climate variations. In the days of our tupuna, the scarcity of food sources, brought about by environmental factors such as major climate changes, meant they had to define greater areas of land for crop growing.

Changes in tangata whenua practices and customs which interact strongly with climate are a key to future planning. We must build on this knowledge at both central and local government levels if we are to act responsibly to protect and nurture Papatuanuku, as she in turns continues to provide protection, stability and security as whenua, turangawaewae for her offspring.

This Bill reinstates the ability of local government to consider the effect of greenhouse gas emissions on climate change when considering applications for air discharge consents.

The Maori Party asks - who better to ask about the weather than the local weather watchers? The National Climate Centre in NIWA Science, has just completed a pilot programme which describes the expertise of local Maori weather watchers.

The project describes the local environmental knowledge of weather and climates of two tribal groups, Ngati Pare in Coromandel and Te Whanau a Apanui, in Eastern Bay of Plenty. According to the research, there are three key strands of knowledge: o The naming and classification of local weather and climate phenomena, o The oral recording of weather and climate based events and trends, o The use of environmental indicators to forecast weather and climate. Looking at just the first strand, it is a fascinating area to learn all the different understandings tangata whenua have developed of climatic features.

Given the skies are grey today, let's look at rain. We have ua kowhai (spring showers); püroro (that hard driving rain); äwhä (severe rain) ua (light rain) ; kohukohutere (light misty rain); tomairangi (dewdrop rain) to name but a few.

Our people used extensive knowledge of the local climate - the wind direction, the rainfall patterns, the seasonal patterns to help them make decisions about the timing, safety and viability of their activities.

M.... Speaker, we are happy to support this bill through to select committee as we believe tackling climate change requires action at all levels. And we call on this House to honour the history and expertise of tangata whenua in developing strategies to achieve change. There must be active engagement with mana whenua in decision-making in their rohe, and we hope the submissions will provide clarity on this - and ways in which the Resource Management Act can be strengthened to ensure effective representation.

We all need to look critically at climate change, and generate solutions which are determined by the people. Most global warming over the last 150 years is attributable to human activity - not UFOs or supernatural occurrences - real life people. And accordingly, real life people will provide us with our answers.

Government should initiate proactive research strategies to achieve vehicle fuel efficiency and reduce vehicle emissions. At local government level we can achieve change through transport and land use planning to encourage reduced emissions from motor vehicles.

The Maori Party is also committed to assisting whanau, hapu and iwi, as tangata tiaki to take whatever measures are necessary to ensure the wellbeing and future good health of the environment.

We need to take action on all fronts - the Kyoto Protocol, carbon tax, in our homes.

And in raising carbon tax I want to set the record straight, that contrary to Labour party spin, the Government failed to formally approach the Maori Party before cancelling out on this policy. As with their own Maori Members, this Government is on a path to self-destruction if it continues to ignore and deny the wisdom and experience of tangata whenua. That includes the Maori Party, who supported carbon tax - in the same way that we also support the fart tax - in the same way that we support the Kyoto Protocol.

Climate change will impact on Maori in diverse ways. The resources most vulnerable to future climate change are likely to include: coastal areas; lands in eastern areas already prone to drought; some Maori lands; indigenous species.

But of even more concern, the impacts will fall disproportionately on the poorest people. Those with the fewest resources have the least capacity to adapt and are the most vulnerable. And who are the poorest peoples - those most affected by the discriminatory impacts of Working for Families, of disproportionately high unemployment, of income disparities.

We know, also, that many of our people are engaging in initiatives such as Te Rarawa, who are leading work in reforestation - understanding the threat that some forestation efforts have created to the traditional use of lands.

The point is that tangata whenua can be a part of the planning for climate change using our experiences and knowledge which has helped us sustain ourselves over the generations. Working together with local bodies, we can consider the problem in the best interest of the nation.


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