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Government needs to start again on bill amendment

(Headline abbreviated, original headline: Government needs to start again on resource management amendment bill)

The government needs to scrap its current approach to the Resource Management Amendment Bill and start again by designing the reforms with its Te Tiriti o Waitangi partner, says Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.

The government’s approach to freshwater management in the Bill is deeply flawed and the process it has undertaken is a breach of the Crown’s Treaty obligations to Ngāi Tahu, Dr Te Maire Tau told Parliament’s Environment Select Committee.

Speaking in his capacity as Co-Chair of Ngāi Tahu’s Freshwater governance group – Te Kura Taka Pini, Dr Tau reminded Committee members that Ngāi Tahu retained rangatiratanga over the freshwaters of its takiwā (tribal area) and that the Crown’s Treaty Settlement with Ngāi Tahu committed it to a new age of co-operation with Ngāi Tahu.

The Ngāi Tahu takiwā comprises 62% of Aotearoa’s surface water resources and 81% of total groundwater volume.

Dr Tau says, “It was pre-emptive of the government to introduce the Bill without any substantive pre-engagement in partnership with Ngāi Tahu as a Treaty partner and considering promises made in our settlement.”

He says an overly ambitious timetable and a flawed process was unacceptable for critical kaupapa such as resource planning and freshwater management.

However, Dr Tau offered the government an olive branch to enable it to progress reforms that impacted natural resources in the Ngāi Tahu takiwā.

“Ngāi Tahu is committed to working with the Crown to resolve the current Treaty breaches and design in partnership a takiwā-specific approach that upholds Ngāi Tahu rangatiratanga.”

For Ngāi Tahu, any planning process under the RMA must provide for dual decision-making powers; representation that reflects the Treaty partnership; and decision-making in accordance with the Treaty and the principles upon which it was founded.

Ngāi Tahu supports the retention of section 360 D of the RMA and the ability of a Minister to over-ride local body decision making, where there is a need to intervene with direct Crown/iwi conversation. It would enable the potential for meaningful action to follow that improves outcomes for iwi at the local level. This is on the basis the Minister upholds the Crown’s Treaty obligations and respects Ngāi Tahu’s rights, interests and values.

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