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Ngāi Tahu Responds To Fast-track Approvals Bill

Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Justin Tipa

The Fast-track Approvals Bill must strike the right balance between progress and preservation, says Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Justin Tipa.

As the iwi prepares to present its response on the Bill to the Select Committee on Monday 10 June, Justin Tipa says the coalition government must uphold Treaty settlements, protect the natural environment, and recognise and protect iwi rights and interests.

“Every settlement has been negotiated and agreed in a particular context and is, therefore, unique. Upholding Treaty settlements is not a tick-box exercise. The overarching Treaty settlement provision does not on its own provide sufficient recognition of the Ngāi Tahu Settlement and our status as tangata whenua in our takiwā.”

“The takiwā of Ngāi Tahu is vast and contains almost two thirds of the country’s conservation estate. Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and our Papatipu Rūnanga are embedded in an intricate network of statutory roles and responsibilities across a number of different pieces of legislation relevant to the Fast-track Bill.”

Justin Tipa says it is a concern that the Bill does not contain a clause in relation to Treaty principles.

“Treaty obligations need to be clear to decision-makers and a clause in the Bill would achieve this.”

He says the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act enshrines the Crown’s commitment to honouring the rangatiratanga of the iwi in its takiwā.

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Justin Tipa acknowledges there is an infrastructure deficit across the country and especially in the southern regions.

“That deficit should be corrected, but it should not be used as an excuse to subvert Treaty Settlements or important environmental safeguards. The legislation must be balanced, ensuring the benefits are not only immediate but sustainable. We cannot sacrifice the long-term sustainability of our natural resources for short-term economic gains.”

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu is ready to partner with the Crown, just as it did for the Christchurch earthquake response and subsequent rebuild, says Justin Tipa.

“As the relevant iwi authority for a significant proportion of Te Waipounamu, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu will have a responsibility to support our Papatipu Rūnanga to participate in the operation of fast-track processes across the takiwā and ensure that the rangatiratanga of Ngāi Tahu is upheld.”

“Central to our stance is the recognition that Ngāi Tahu has rights, interests, and responsibilities with respect to decision-making in our takiwā. This was guaranteed to us in Te Tiriti o Waitangi and affirmed and elaborated on in Treaty Settlements.”

“Failure to provide for this in the Bill would undermine Ngāi Tahu rangatiratanga in our takiwā. As the statutory representative of Ngāi Tahu whānui, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu has a responsibility to protect our rangatiratanga at all costs.”

Justin Tipa says collaboration between the government and iwi is required to drive progress and economic development across the regions.

“To be successful in the regions, the coalition government must involve those in the regions. As an iwi, we have demonstrated our capacity to add value and contribute to sustainable development in our communities.”

“The Ngāi Tahu Settlement creates a unique statutory context in Te Waipounamu, where there is one central iwi authority in a large defined takiwā. This creates efficiencies and opportunities to problem-solve on a large scale.”

“I cannot see that fast-track processes will be successfully implemented in our takiwā if the Bill fails to provide for the unique statutory context created by our Settlement or for appropriate environmental safeguards. Without these key features, it will likely lead to conflict and contestation at every turn. This benefits no one.”

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