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Te Ururoa Flavell - Auckland Domain (Tennis) Bill

Auckland Domain (Auckland Tennis) Amendment Bill
Te Ururoa Flavell - Member of Parliament for Waiariki
Wednesday 21 November 2007

At first glance, this bill appears to be a mere technical adjustment, a proposal to amend the Auckland Domain Act 1987 in order to update the reference from the Auckland Lawn Tennis Association (Incorporated) to Auckland Tennis Incorporated.

We in the Maori Party have seen many a Bill like this, appear on the order paper and we are given every assurance there is nothing to fear, all is well, game over.

The problem is that, as the serve for match point arises following a deuce call, there is suddenly the dawning of the question, where do tangata whenua fit?

We are pleased that as we are about to serve for the first time with this, the first reading of the Auckland Domain (Auckland Tennis) Amendment Bill, we are taking the opportunity to call “time out” to raise the issue of the relationship between tangata whenua and tennis for the consideration of this House, as it informs this Bill.

The extensive oral history that we cherish amongst our koeke, our elders reminds us that marae tennis dates back over a century. I know of many kuia and koroua who talk of marae having tennis courts, and the opportunity for highly competitive games amongst other iwi and hapu was frequently contested on the court.

From 1911, the Marumaru Cup was the object of hot rivalry between Hawkes Bay, Taranaki and Whanganui.

We know also of the Morehu Turoa Cup, a competition again between neighbouring whanau, hapu and iwi. The distinguishing feature of this competition was teams of eight players four men and four women.

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It was in fact this context of maintaining whanau, hapu and iwi unity and connections that the legendary Ta Apirana Ngata drew upon in drawing together the various Maori competitions into one collective national force, the New Zealand Maori Lawn Tennis Association.

This association included a very prestigious annual tournament, which hit off in 1926, with some 94 players in the men’s singles event.

And at the risk of sounding like a tennis infomercial for Maori tennis, what was so fascinating about the national association tournament was that a player was only able to attend the tournament after the provinces had completed their various elimination rounds in order to send only the best players.

One of our personalities from my hometown of Rotorua, Miss Ruia Morrison, was a New Zealand ladies champion and our first Maori representative at Wimbledon, where all reports talk of her acquitting herself honorably.

Mr Speaker, I have taken the time to draw out some of the history of tangata whenua association with the little yellow ball, to remind us all that even an issue like extending the term of lease that Auckland City Council will grant to Auckland Tennis Incorporated from 21 years up to 50 years should automatically presume that Maori will have an interest.

So although one may think that, at its most basic form, this Bill is simply rubber stamping the fact that Auckland Tennis Incorporated requires a longer term lease from Auckland City Council to redevelop its facilities, it would be useful to know what involvement, if any, Maori will have in the future direction of Auckland Tennis Incorporated.

Under the Local Government Act 2002, councils are of course required to consult with mana whenua. We have been, therefore, extremely interested in learning what consultation has been undertaken with Ngati Whatua in relation to this Bill?

I am never surprised in this House that the concept of consultation with tangata whenua is tagged on as the afterthought, the presumption being made that this Bill like many others before it, is merely about administrative changes with the two key players in this case restricted to Auckland Tennis Incorporated and the Auckland City Council.

And I guess if your world view is void of Treaty justice, that analysis will always appear valid.

In such a world view, the only requirement for consultation may be restricted to that of the statute.

So what relevance does the Auckland Domain Act 1987 have for this Bill?

What are the implications of section 6 of the Reserves and Other Lands Disposal Act 1974 in terms of the passage of this Bill through the House?

What would Dick Garrett, Chairman of the 80th Aotearoa Maori Tennis Championship have to say about this Bill?

Then there are the marae of Ngati Whatua and beyond – and whether they have any particular interest in the future outlook and direction of Auckland Tennis Incorporated?

And there is, of course, a very significant issue at the root of this BiII, which will have particular meaning for mana whenua.

This Bill provides Auckland City Council with the ability to permit Auckland Tennis Incorporated a sub lease over the land it leases from the Council.

That's where section 6 of the Reserves and Other Lands Disposal Act 1974 enters the picture. That's the amendment which is drawn on to amend the legal description of the land that may be leased to Auckland Tennis.

Mr Speaker, this is at the very crux of the issue for the Maori Party - the relationship and association that tangata whenua will have with the land under debate.

And it is important to get it right now, to establish the precedent. We are aware that Auckland City Council also intends to promote another local bill that will deal with other legal issues arising from the Auckland Domain Act.

Part of the likely wash-up for the next Bill to deal with, will be a review of the current legal description and the position of other lessees of the Domain.

So we ask again, how Maori have been involved in the discussions around the legislative changes up for review.

The land referred to in this Bill is located on Stanley Street, Grafton. Every member of this House would know that is the same land on which is located the major tennis event centre in Auckland, a site for significant international tournaments.

Auckland Tennis plays host to two major international tennis tournaments each year at the ASB Tennis Centre, Parnell. The ASB Classic Women's International and the Heineken Open Men’s International.

The Maori Party stands to merely raise the question - what, if any interests do Ngati Whatua have in relation to this land, and have their concerns been appropriately taken into account?

We have Iooked carefully at the Bill, the explanatory note, the digital title plan, the advice from Buddle Finlay, for some acknowledgment about how mana whenua interests have been taken into account.

What did the Ngati Whatua Trust Board have to say about the legislative rights to the land in question as currently held by Auckland City Council, as the lessor?

If Auckland Tennis Incorporated seeks the ability to sublease the land to the property developer; what are the proposals that Auckland City Council must automatically follow before consent is approved?

It is vital that councils come to this House having asked the questions, having satisfied the requirements under the Local Government Act to consult with mana whenua as a matter of course.

We cannot help but think of the dreams and challenges of Ta Apirana Ngata so many years ago, that saw him not only being fully involved in the events of the day as they were debated in these chambers, but aIso in ensuring the social, economic and cultural advancement of tangata whenua succeeded in so many areas of life, including the tennis courts of Aotearoa.

We owe it to him and to those 94 champions in the 1926 Easter Tournament and to the many who lost out in the provincial draws; to the victorious champions of the Marumaru Cup and the Morehu Turoa Cup almost one hundred years ago.

I have seen a slogan regarding this Auckland Domain (Auckland Tennis) Amendment Bill which reads, Hit me with your best shot

We urge the sponsor of this Bill, Hon Judith Tizard, and the sponsoring body for this Bill, the Auckland City Council, to follow a process which will really hit the House with their best shot, in making the investment to consult whanau, hapu and iwi in the best interests of Aotearoa.

Or once again we will see another institution serve the ball out of court or in to the net and end up as they always do - double faulting when it comes to forming respectful, meaningful relationships with tangata whenua. It is not just a matter of having a leisurely hit up, it is about having a fair game.

Mr Eric Roy learnt his lesson in progressing the Southland A and P Association Empowering Bill.

Mr Simon Power learnt his lesson with Manfield Park.

Moan Mackey learnt her lesson with the Alfred Cox Park in Gisborne.

Hopefully the promoter of this Bill will learn from them.


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