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Te Ururoa Flavell Speech: Freedom Camping Bill

Freedom Camping Bill; Committee stage

Tuesday 16 August 2011; 8.45pm

TE URUROA FLAVELL (Māori Party—Waiariki)245FLAVELL, TE URUROA20:25:10TE URUROA FLAVELL (Māori Party—Waiariki):

Tēnā koe Mr Chairperson.

I am taking a call on the Freedom Camping Bill. Earlier this evening I was listening to my colleague Rahui Katene in the debate on the Biosecurity Law Reform Bill. She referred to the wisdom of the Waitangi Tribunal’s Ko Aotearoa Tēnei: A Report into Claims Concerning New Zealand Law and Policy Affecting Māori Culture and Identity. For all intents and purposes, it is known as the WAI262 report. In that report there are a number of recommendations that suggest that the Resource Management Act should be reformed so that the Crown and all local authorities are more strongly compelled to engage meaningfully with the kaitiaki.

The report outlines exactly how that can be achieved. It could be achieved by developing an enhanced iwi management plan with polices and proposals developed by, agreed to, and adopted by both the iwi and local authority representatives. Another approach could be to create an improved plan to make joint management and a transfer of power to iwi much more easily implemented A third approach might be to recommend that core national policy statements are developed on Māori influence and active participation in the Resource Management Act processes. Those are great ideas, I reckon, but given the impending importance of the event on 26 November, I suggest that it does not appear likely that any progress will be made in responding to the recommendations made in that report, certainly not in the immediate future. So in the meantime, the Māori Party has come up with the challenge of seeing how we can draw upon such an excellent reference point for other legislation where it applies.

The Freedom Camping Bill is a very clear example of how we can encourage a far more effective relationship between local authorities and mana whenua. The Māori Party, through my colleague Rahui Katene, has taken the step of introducing a Supplementary Order Paper to amend the Freedom Camping Bill to require local authorities to recognise, respect, and act in accordance with Te Tiriti o Waitangi when exercising powers or functions under the Act. This amendment will introduce a clause that suggests that in order to recognise and respect the Crown’s responsibility to take appropriate account of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, local authorities and any person acting on behalf of local authorities must act in a way that is consistent with Te Tiriti o Waitangi when exercising powers or functions under the Act.

We say that we need to have a more proactive approach to encourage local authorities to communicate meaningfully with the relevant iwi, hapū, and whānau. My colleague Rahui Katene recently advised me—and it comes with some experience, I think—of what has happened down in Kaikōura, where I used to teach at the start of my teaching career. In Kaikōura there is a place called Ngā Niho, which is just in behind Takahanga Marae, if one has ever been to Kaikōura. It is a traditional pā site of Kaikōura and, of course, Ngāi Tahu—rightly so—became pretty agitated when some so-called freedom campers were using the traditional pā site to empty their toilet waste. In case people think that that is an isolated approach, I am aware that there have been concerns in my electorate of Te Waiariki from one end of the electorate to the other, from places such as the Tongariro National Park through to the Urewera National Park and the eastern bay, and up and down the East Coast, where freedom campers tend to move.

Quite rightly, this is something that we have to address. We think this bill is pretty useful because it sets up an offence of freedom camping, which is described as taking place when the flora or fauna is interfered with or damaged, or waste is deposited on to the area other than into the water receptacles that have been set aside for that. But the Māori Party has a philosophical opposition to any bits of legislation that are introduced for the sake of creating a new list of fines and punishments without due consideration being given to proactive and responsible behaviour to avoid the same mistakes reoccurring. We believe that the amendment under the name of Rahui Katene on behalf of the Māori Party is such an approach. It encourages local authorities to take, as I said earlier, appropriate account of Te Tiriti o Waitangi to act in ways that recognise and respect the Crown’s responsibility as a Treaty partner. Acting in a Treaty-complaint manner will ensure consultation with iwi.

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