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Go-ahead To Transfer Functions To Iwi Authority A New Zealand First

Waikato Regional Council has reached a landmark decision to approve the transfer of specified water quality monitoring functions to the Tūwharetoa Māori Trust Board – a first of its kind in Aotearoa New Zealand.

However, the council will still retain overall responsibility for the monitoring functions.

In a meeting held today, councillors voted unanimously in favour of transferring summer bathing beach, regional rivers, rainfall and groundwater quality monitoring within the Lake Taupō catchment to the trust board.

In making their decision, councillors imposed a number of conditions which require the trust board to take positive action to work with landowners and to establish protocols to address access to private land. The transfer agreement must also include an annual review (by council) for the first two years and biennially thereafter.

A public hearing of submissions was held earlier this month following a one-month consultation period. Council chair Russ Rimmington said the proposal received support from the community, with 60 per cent of submissions in favour of the transfer, but noted concerns were raised by some of the submitters.

“The conditions we are imposing will mitigate their concerns and ensure the health and wellbeing of Lake Taupō remains a high priority at both a national and local level,” Cr Rimmington said.

“We have worked with the trust board over many years and recognise their ancestral relationship with Lake Taupō, their local knowledge and the technical skill and expertise they possess. Today’s landmark decision will create greater cost efficiencies and a streamlined delivery of water quality monitoring functions that will enhance both our monitoring programmes.”

Cr Rimmington said the council will undertake ongoing quality assurance of the functions that are being transferred to ensure council requirements are being met. “The analysis of the results will continue to be carried out by Hills Laboratory and ownership of the data being collected will remain with the council, as well as any decision-making regarding the monitoring samples.”

Council community and services director, Neville Williams, said “The decision follows two years of discussions and detailed analysis by staff from the council and Trust Board.

“The provision to transfer functions to an iwi authority has been an option since the Resource Management Act (RMA) was enacted almost three decades ago. Tūwharetoa Māori Trust Board is the first iwi authority in Aotearoa New Zealand to have functions transferred by a council,” Mr Williams said.

During the meeting the council’s environmental monitoring team manager, Dr Ed Brown, reiterated that council staff would work closely with Tuwharetoa to train staff and quality check samples and data provided using existing processes. “Tūwharetoa will be using the same tools and the same methods as those utilised by our council’s monitoring staff.”

The provision to transfer functions to an iwi authority has been an option since the Resource Management Act (RMA) was enacted almost three decades ago. Section 33 of the RMA enables a local authority to transfer any one or more of its functions, powers or duties under the act to another public authority, except for the power of transfer itself.

The transfer of functions from council to the trust board will take place in September 2020 – making it the first iwi authority in Aotearoa New Zealand to have functions transferred to them by a council.

The council may choose to revoke the transfer agreement at any time should the conditions in the agreement not be met.

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