Call for iwi to be fully involved on stewardship lands
Maori Party calls for iwi to be fully involved in the proposed review and reclassification of stewardship lands
The Maori Party welcomes the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report Investigating the future of conservation: The case of stewardship land released today and shares concerns that the conservation estate can be commercialised by stealth.
“The report raises major issues about the conservation estate and the relatively weak legal protection of land categorised as stewardship land which dates back to 1987. Under this category land can be reclassified, swapped or sold for commercial or private use such as mining and other commercial uses,” says Maori Party Co-leaders Tariana Turia and Te Ururoa Flavell.
“We would urge the Government to take this opportunity to ensure that iwi have an input into how stewardship land and other categories of conservation land are utilised. We also expect that due consideration is afforded iwi many of whom are in the middle of their Treaty Settlement process for use or transfer of this land which has obviously been made available to commercial and private users. The Tongariro National Park and the Urewera National Park are two obvious areas where iwi have been denied proper decision-making roles for generations,” says Mr Flavell.
“Hapu and iwi have long played an important role in the conservation of plant and animal species. Now is the perfect time to restore and uphold that kaitiakitanga role. Tangata whenua have a proven track record of protecting natural environments from commercial development, including native bush, wetlands and coastal areas. This report highlights the fact that Crown legal protections have been inadequate for many areas with high conservation values. It is time the Government recognised the critical role that iwi and hapu have to play in conservation and management of natural environments,” says Mrs Turia.
“We expect iwi to be fully involved in the proposed review and reclassification of stewardship lands and to have Treaty claims to conservation lands properly addressed. Current Resource Management Act reforms continue to deny tangata whenua their proper status as Treaty partners with customary and historic rights and interests in natural resources. Until the role of iwi is addressed, land and other resources with important conservation, cultural and natural values will be at risk of commercial development.”