West Coast iwi are backing a call by the Mayor of Westland Bruce Smith to disband the West Coast Conservation Board, because it is stacked with conservationists.
The Waitaha River. Photo: Krzysztof Golik via Wikimedia Commons
Te Runanga o Ngati Waewae and Te Runanga o Makaawhio, together as Poutini Ngai Tahu, are calling on the Minister Eugenie Sage to review the current board line-up.
In a joint statement this morning [Wednesday December 4]] the iwi chairmen Francois Tumahai and Paul Madgwick said iwi were dismayed at the calls of conservation groups to 'lock down' land on the Coast, including the Waitaha River catchment.
"Poutini Ngai Tahu have rangatiratanga over the West Coast and are therefore kaitiaki.
"Only Poutini Ngai Tahu hold those kaitiakitanga responsibilities.
"We have been growing more and more concerned with the presence of conservationists on the board who do not have an understanding of our iwi and how our community works.
"These interest groups do not have the mandate of kaitiakitanga..." the iwi chairs said.
Conservation Board chairman Keith Morfett said the board had 11 members, four of whom were appointed under a National government; and two had come in as iwi reps.
Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said Mr Smith's attack on the valuable work done by the West Coast Conservation Board, was irresponsible and misplaced.
"It is disappointing that Te Runanga o Ngati Waewae and Te Runanga o Makaawhio have chosen to raise any concerns through the news media rather than with me directly," Ms Sage said.
"The decision on the Waitaha River hydro scheme was made by Government not made by the Tai Poutini Conservation Board."
The minister also dismissed the call for a review of the board's membership.
"I continue to support the valuable work and
role of the Tai Poutini-West Coast Conservation Board in
carrying out their functions under the Conservation Act,"