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“Fast Track Bill Pulls Credibility Of Crown’s Apology Into Question” - Ngāti Manuhiri

Fast tracked consents could quickly undo what has taken decades to achieve but we don’t have to sacrifice environmental preservation for progress, we can have both says Manuhiri Kaitiaki Charitable Trust Chief Executive and Environmental Hero of the Year Te Toa Taiao o te Tau winner, Nicola MacDonald.

Manuhiri Kaitiaki Charitable Trust is the operational arm of Ngāti Manuhiri Settlement Trust (NMST) which has used significant settlement resources to protect te taiao and whose efforts are threatened by the Fast Track Approvals Bill in its current form.

“Throughout the Fast Track Approvals Bill process, there is a pervasive undertone that consents opposed by mana whenua and subsequently denied, get in the way of the progress of our nation, and that the obligation to engage with iwi and hapū Māori is problematic.

“Yet every iwi and hapū that has settlement legislation—absolutely every single one—includes an admission from the Crown that it has encroached upon, and sometimes wholly extinguished, the rights of Māori.”

In an opinion piece published on NMST’s website today, Ms MacDonald says that while Ngāti Manuhiri is not against progress and has its own projects that could be advanced through a fast tracked process, development should be focused on the collective duty we have to look after our natural environment for future generations.

“This duty is to make sure development activities balance profit with people, and the needs of people be balanced with the needs of our planet.”

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Ms MacDonald says that you don’t have to look back far in our nation’s history to understand why the obligation to engage with mana whenua exists, pointing to the apology in the Ngāti Manuhiri Claims Settlement Act 2012.

“Our apology says the Crown ‘profoundly regrets its breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles’ and ‘unreservedly apologises for not having honoured its obligations to Ngāti Manuhiri’ and is seeking to build a new relationship with Ngāti Manuhiri. Yet twelve years on from the passing of our settlement legislation, we are facing a potential return to one-sided decision-making with the passage of the Fast Track Approvals Bill.

“In its current form, the Bill does not afford us the opportunity to engage on projects that will affect us, at all stages.

“I have no other option than to assume that the Crown was genuine with its apology, so I seek just one thing: when ensuring a fast track for development, do not fast-track the abdication of duty the Crown owes to iwi and hapū Māori.”

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