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Cold Creek Rural Water Supply

South Taranaki District Council (Cold Creek Rural Water Supply) Bill

Hon Tariana Turia, Member of Parliament for Te Tai Hauauru

Wednesday 20 February 2013 - 5.30pm

I rise to respond to the specific clause 5 (2a) in Part Two of the Bill which deals with the process for obtaining authorisation to proceed with the transfer.

This is an important part in that it states that the Council will comply with due process if it has consulted on the proposed transfer with “every iwi authority in relation to each iwi whose rohe comes, wholly or in part, within the scheme distribution area.”

As the local member I am obliged to inform the House that the local iwi are absolutely opposed to this Bill. There are two very strong statements of objection that I wish the House to consider before I even proceed with the range of arguments iwi have eloquently and consistently put before the select committee, and therefore the wider parliament.

Ngapari Nui, the Tumu Whakaae of Te Runanga o Ngati Ruanui Trust forcefully put the case, saying “…water is a fundamental cornerstone for iwi and one that must be worked through together with iwi. There has been no meaningful engagement about this Bill with iwi and for that reason the Bill should be rejected.”

This lack of meaningful engagement is a key theme reiterated through other submissions, including from Nga Hapu o Ngaruahine, and the Taranaki Iwi Trust.

Of particular objection is the fact that Taranaki Iwi were not consulted, engaged or involved in the development of the Bill. The submissions describe the process as unacceptable, that mana whenua were not involved in the decision that led to the development of the bill or in the crafting of the bill itself.

The offence taken is blatantly apparent – as a supposed Treaty partner and we talk a great deal about Treaty partnerships in this House they should have been informed and given an opportunity to fully understand the decision before the introduction of the bill to the House.

Given the significance that we understand of iwi and their relationship with water.

And I want to just expand on this point – how the Treaty applies to this bill affecting a rural water supply scheme.

It is all about location. This scheme is located right within the Taranaki iwi area of interest.

This is a consortium of eight iwi in Taranaki who exercise mana whenua and mana moana within that rohe.

These iwi have been kaitiaki of the whenua and the moana for generations – and with that comes inherent responsibilities to preserve and protect their whenua, moana and taonga.

This is an inherited responsibility – a relationship that will endure for generations to follow.

Notwithstanding the cultural and spiritual association with water that the iwi throughout this tribal territory carry, we are also talking about iwi who are engaged, right now, in settlement negotiations, and therefore who rightfully expect to be involved in the decision-making process around the transfer of Crown assets out of Crown ownership.

And I want to put before the House the unparalleled experience that Taranaki iwi have had with the Crown.

The submission from Liana Poutu, General Manager for Taranaki Iwi Trust, says it all : “Taranaki Iwi suffered some of the most serious breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi at the hands of the Crown. It is unconscionable that while the Crown are engaging in a process to redress these (very) serious grievances, on the other hand they continue to perpetuate the unfair and unjust treatment of our people.”

Part Two – section 8 (1) (e)

There is another part of the Bill, in section 8, which requires the Company to ‘prepare a protocol that provides for appropriate consultation by the Company with every iwi authority in relation to each iwi whose rohe, wholly or in part, comes within the scheme distribution area.’

Mr Speaker, under usual circumstances, we would support any protocol that sets out to provide for consultation with iwi - but as I have already explained – these were not usual circumstances.

On the 13 March 2012 representatives of Taranaki iwi, Nga Ruahinerangi, Ngati Ruanui and Nga Rauru met with the Honourable Chester Borrows and the Company to reinforce their concerns.

The four South Taranaki iwi told the Company that they were opposed to the Bill – and that the transfer of land from the South Taranaki District Council – while the Trust is in Treaty settlement negotiations with the Crown – it is unacceptable.

Yet still the Bill progressed to first reading.

For my own part, I took up this issue with the District Council and the local member some six months prior in September 2011. I urged the Council to initiate adequate and comprehensive consultation and engagement with the affected whanau, hapu and iwi.

I explained further, that while the iwi would acknowledge particular impacts for Orimupiko Marae and Oeo Marae, the wider iwi interests would also impact on the proposed infrastructural developments.

I asked the question – would these impacts result in the diminution of tangata whenua rights?

In February 2012, after sustained advocacy from the Māori Party and from iwi - the Bill was deferred, and I was assured this was to allow the company the time to resolve issues with the iwi.

And yet still the Bill came back to the House in March last year.

I said at that point, “I am standing by the iwi and I am voting against this Bill which works against our principles of rangatiratanga.”

Mr Speaker, nothing has changed to give the Maori Party any confidence that the concerns iwi have raised regarding the lack of proper consultation, the privatisation of water infrastructure, or future impacts on land value and access to water have been taken into account.

There is a word that begins with R that could describe this situation – it is at the very least institutionalised discrimination that seemingly means Taranaki iwi have no say about what happens in their rohe.

Ngati Ruanui outlined in their submission that there has been over ten years of missed opportunity where meaningful discussion could have been had with the iwi of South Taranaki. And the Council failed in this duty to consult with iwi.

It is too easy to dismiss this bill as being about a single water scheme in a rural location affecting a few.

But I remind the House – that in 1865 some 1.2 million acres of Taranaki land was proclaimed ‘confiscated’ under the New Zealand Settlements Act.

The Crown redress to Ngati Ruanui account to a few cents on the dollar for each acre that has been taken.

It was a gesture of enormous good faith that this sum was accepted by that iwi to move forward for the betterment of the nation as a whole.

This Bill – in creating an opportunity to allow private ownership and remove the Treaty partnership between the Crown and iwi does not exist in a vacuum. For those who uphold the responsibilities of kaitiakitanga, the water at the centre of this bill requires careful protection and guardianship.

Lest we forget the Supreme Court case happening just across the road, the management of water resources is fundamental to iwi.

Parliament must not act today in a way which undermines the Treaty relationship and adversely impacts on the water legislative landscape before the collective tribal discussions can be held about Maunga Taranaki and the precious water resource which flows from it.

The Maori Party wishes to register its objections to this Bill and will continue to stand alongside of iwi in opposing this legislation.

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