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Te Ururoa Flavell - Speech

Southland Agricultural and Pastoral Association Empowering Bill

Wednesday, 6 September 2006

Te Ururoa Flavell, Maori Party Spokesperson for Local Government

The Maori Party came to this Bill, with raised antennae.

Would we find that the intention to empower the Southland Agricultural and Pastoral Association Inc to sell its interests in the Invercargill Showgrounds, or any other land it may acquire, was really just another metaphor for land confiscation or alienation of a twenty-first century kind?

We were primed to detect the untold story, Mr Speaker.

Would we find the same situation for Ascot Park as we found in the Manawatu with Manfeild Park; or in Tai Rawhiti with Alfred Cox?

How well informed would mana whenua be of the discussions, the decisions, the benefits for the Society to sell the land?

Would we find a similar situation existed for the people of Murihiku, as for Ngati Kauwhata, for Rongowhakaata, for the peoples of Turanganui.

This is not an academic exercise.

Collective ownership of whenua, and the exercise of customary rights, are part of the rights and responsibilities of whanau or hapu membership, and are an integral part of the identity and mana of tangata whenua.

It is our obligation, it is our honour to come to this House to exercise the independent Maori voice, to defend Maori rights, to advance Maori interests, for the benefit of Aotearoa.

And yet regrettably, the significance of the Treaty relationship, in this Bill, as with so many others, is given such little consideration.

We stand here today to advise this House, again, that Mana whenua did not know of this issue prior to our contacting them. Kai Tahu had not been consulted or informed as part of the negotiations, or as part of the Bill’s drafting.

This is simply not on, it is an affront against tangata whenua, for yet another piece of legislation.

But, there are two very important distinctions that the Maori Party can make in the context of the Southland Agricultural and Pastoral Association Empowering Bill.

The first is to be able to publically commend the initiatives of those key players in local government whom do respect the ongoing relationship with the Treaty partner.

Our research says that Southland Local Authorities, entered into a Charter of Understanding with Kai Tahu o Murihiku in 1997 to define the processes for Kai Tahu o Murihiku involvement and consultation in matters of resource consent.

Subsequent to that Charter, the Southland District Council jointly with Gore District Council, Environment Southland and Invercargill City Council funds Te Ao Marama Incorporated, a business unit established to provide liaison between applicants for resource consents and local runanga.

Te Ao Marama has quickly become a ‘one-stop shop’ for iwi liaison on resource management issues within their rohe.

The concept of Te Ao Marama is sourced in our korero tawhito. It refers to the process of being emerged into light; when the separation of Ranginui and Papatuanuku occurred.

And indeed, for local government in Southland, Te Ao Marama would seem to be part of the new world, where Tangata whenua interests in resource management; in participating in the four local authorities, is actually facilitated.

Te Ao Marama represents four of the papatipu runaka - the tribal councils of Kai Tahu - in the interests of Tangata whenua in Southland, including matters covered by the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998. However, where the issues have a wider Treaty or precedent-setting character, the required consultation is with the overall iwi authority, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.

The Maori Party is thrilled therefore, to be able to say that on paper and it would appear in practice, the Southland District Council recognises the vital importance of appropriate liaison and consultation with iwi on resource management issues within the District.

We know that this liaison has been particularly important since the enactment of the Ngai Tahu Settlement Act 1998. That Act creates a number of Statutory Acknowledgement areas within Southland where Ngai Tahu is recognised as having a special association. These areas are subsequently identified in the District Plan, and the Council is legally required to consult with Ngai Tahu when applications are received in or directly adjacent to these areas.

It all looks very good indeed.

Ki te whai ao, ki te Ao Marama, tihei mauri ora.

Given this local precedent, the establishment and experience of Te Ao Marama, the Maori Party cannot understand what was so hard about consulting mana whenua when it came to the Southland Agricultural and Pastoral Association Empowering Bill.

Indeed, we have learnt that the sponsor of this Bill, the local Member, even fronted up to the runaka meeting a couple of weeks ago- but he did not mention this issue.

And this is where we get to the second distinction between this Bill, as opposed to the situations surrounding Manfeild Park in Manawatu or Alfred Cox Park in Gisborne.

For when we, the Maori Party, contacted Mana whenua, they confirmed that actually they are happy with the proposed developments outlined in the Southland Agricultural and Pastoral Association Empowering Bill.

In line with their long history as entrepreneurs, the people of Murihiku are quick to support any initiatives which they consider to be positive for Invercargill and the people.

Ever since the first encounters with settlers, mana whenua in Murihiku have been active advocates of the local economy. They were instrumental in the flax trade, the whaling industry, in supplying ships with food. And so, true to form, they suggest that the more occasions that Ascot Park is used, it helps all the players involved and the local economy.

All I can say is, “National, this is your lucky day”.

But it could easily have been different on many fronts.

The Southland A and P showgrounds is endowment land protected by law.

Endowment land is gifted for a specific purpose, and if no longer required it should be returned to the group who gifted it. Under the terms of the Ngai Tahu Settlement Act 1998, iwi are to be given right of first refusal on Crown land being sold (to be able to purchase at market rates).

Following due process, we are able to advise the House that the opinion of mana whenua is that the selling of this land has no effect on the right of first refusal clause.

We know that with this Bill, three conditions must first be satisfied:

(1) It appears advantageous to the Society to sell the land; and

(2) At least two-thirds of the members of the Society present at a general meeting have agreed; and

(3) There must be not less than 14 days notice of the general meeting and the proposal to sell the land has been given to members of the Society.

The Maori Party asks the inevitable - what would be so hard about having a key condition to any Bill being put forward, that firstly the people of the land, the mana whenua were consulted and empowered to participate?

There are plenty of precedents for doing so, in the rohe of Murihiku.

In the health area for instance, there have been commitments to a Memorandum of Understanding between the Southland District Health Board and Mana whenua ki Murihiku - Te Runanga o Awarua in Bluff; Te Runanga o Oraka Aparima in Riverton; Waihopai Runaka in Invercargill; and Hokonui Runanga in Gore.

As part of the spirit of this relation, consultation with mana whenua, takes place through Kaitiaki Hauora - a committee which comprises Ngai Tahu and local runanga representation along with Southland District Health Board members and management.

Mr Speaker, the Maori Party is always disappointed to read such statements as in the background to this Bill -that all parties are in agreement that the sale should proceed - and yet to know that all parties doesn’t mean all.

We also know the faulty processes involved in the pursuit of justice has resulted in one of the Treaty partners having an understanding that Full and Final does not mean Full and Final as justice is never done when negotiations are carried out with one Partner having to accept the conditions imposed by the other.

All parties in the context of the Southland Agricultural and Pastoral Association Empowering Bill means the Invercargill City Council, the A & P Association, Ascot Park, and the business and retail sector of Invercargill.

What about tangata whenua who represent 11.6% of the total region’s population? And within this, Invercargill City, by far, has the largest Maori population of the district.

It’s not that hard.

We know that with show season fast approaching all parties want this matter concluded so that the new development can take place.

And we in the Maori Party also know, that another very significant party, mana whenua, will not stand in the way of the Southland A & P Association in selling their property and relocating to the Ascot Park Raceway.

The Maori Party supports the passage of the Southland Agricultural and Pastoral Association Empowering Bill in this House - and we mihi at the same time, to the generosity of mana whenua, in supporting such an initiative to take place.


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