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Palmerston North Showgrounds Act Repeal Bill

Palmerston North Showgrounds Act Repeal Bill

Wednesday 2 July 2008

TE URUROA FLAVELL, Sport and recreation spokesperson - Maori Party

Kia ora tätou, kia ora tätou te Whare.

I listened to Mr Maharey talking about other speakers this evening and their association with particular places, and I am pleased to say that I will tell the truth.

Up until a week ago I can say that my association is limited to scoring a try from about 20 metres out in the middle of the No 2 paddock, playing on the No 1 paddock when I was a young fulla, and from memory I think I set up about two tries as well, not that we will dwell too much on that.

My second association is with the Matatini festival, which Steve Maharey will know took place at the beginning of the year in February, and that was National Kapa Haka time. All the main groups of the country headed to Palmerston North to participate in the Matatini Kapa Haka festival.

So I think it is a pretty good association – rugby, kapa haka – what else is there?

We know that at the kapa festival about 35,000 people were drawn to the arena, I suppose overwhelmed with pride about their indigenous culture and arts.

But when I came to doing the research into this Bill, I came across another association with this place, and it is quite important.

What I would like to explain to the House is that Arena Manawatu, for those who do not know, was also the marshalling spot for the Maori Battalion before it went overseas.

There are a number of photos around which will show that that is where basically people would go to gather our people and, indeed, any visit to the show-grounds today, will pass the Maori Battalion Memorial Hall directly opposite to the park. So that’s an important association too.

Mr Speaker, this Bill, in its most simple form, is about transferring the management and control of the land of the show-grounds from the current Board to the Palmerston North City Council as alluded to by Mr Maharey.

In essence, it seems pretty straight-forward. We know from our members throughout Manawatu, that the Palmerston North City Council and the Manawatu District Council have been working more closely together, sharing services, and promoting joint events. And that’s all pretty good.

But as the independent voice of Maori in this Parliament, we are always committed to finding out a little bit more about what influences and impacts any legislation has on mana whenua.

What we have found out is that the Palmerston North City Council has undertaken public consultation on the changes, and during that process, it appears that there were no submissions that were received in opposition.

The Maori Liaison officer of the Council, Mr Todd Taiepa, told us that there has been a very public consultative process on this whole issue, given it is such a major strategic asset.

We went further, and talked with representatives of both Rangitane and Ngati Kauwhata about this Bill.

Rangitane is happy for the Bill to proceed, and also accepted the wisdom of maintaining sports and recreation and the like in one centre – namely the Arena Manawatu; while focusing rural and agricultural activities like A and P shows, and another site in Feilding, at Manfeild Park.

And this, of course, is where it all becomes a bit complicated.

Because as Ngati Kauwhata would tell us, the Crown’s record on Manfeild Park is not exactly exemplary.

We in the Maori Party came to this House in late 2005, and throughout 2006, putting the case for Ngati Kauwhata to be included as representation for mana whenua on the Manfeild Park Trust Board.

Not a major ask one would think. Yet it didn’t actually happen.

The thing is, we know that Ngati Kauwhata is continuing with their quest for representation. We know that they have put to the Waitangi Tribunal, the question about membership on the Manfeild Park Trust Electoral College.

We know also that they are pursuing their claim to lands at Manfeild Park through the Treaty settlements process, including WAI 1461 - the Rangitikei Manawatu Block - with Ngati Raukawa and all other iwi.

So all that we would ask, is that in this new Bill, the Palmerston North Showgrounds Act Repeal Bill, that more care is taken towards ensuring that all relevant iwi are indeed satisfied with the outcomes.

The key thing for us, Madam Speaker, is that specific efforts are made to engage with iwi – and that the terms of that engagement are determined together with iwi themselves.

It is not just about talking with tangata whenua about cultural matters, and matters of design.

It is about the environmental concerns related to this land.

It is about the best use of the strategic economic assets for the wellbeing of all people that access this resource.

It is about kaitiakanga and the sense of responsibility and ownership that tangata whenua hold for any land entrusted through the generations to their care.

So Madam Speaker, we will support this Bill at this first reading, in the spirit of optimism which we trust will enable full consultation to occur.


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