Along with legal equality, secure property rights let a democratic country flourish. Attack these and you undermine confidence, prosperity, the economy and ultimately – peace. Don’t think that would ever happen here?
Under the influence of Auckland Council’s unelected/unaccountable“Independent Maori Statutory Board”, many private properties now have bright purple dots placed on them.
Purple Dots impact private properties along Orewa’s estuary.
These innocuous-looking dots give power to local iwi to decide whether your property is of value to them and to influence what happens on that land.
There were 61 sites of Maori “cultural or heritage significance” identified in the first draft of Auckland’s Unitary Plan in March. By implementation in September, 3,600 additional sites had appeared. These claim to be urupa (cemeteries), middens (i.e. rubbish dumps) and former village or pa sites. The Plan warns there may yet be many other sites and places that may be equally or more significant, and acknowledges the schedule will be added to through future plan changes.
Thus thousands of homeowners are now being forced to apply to iwi for permission before making alterations to their properties.
So what are the possible outcomes here? There are certainly more opportunities for tribal players to exert control over property owners and collect payments from them for consultation services. Property values may fall too as frightened or frustrated householders sell out at a cheap price.
Disregard this as an Auckland-only problem at your peril. It appears the current redesigning of the political structures in Northland, Hawkes Bay and Wellington are likely to be based on the less-than-satisfactory (and certainly not efficient) Auckland model. The rest of the country will be next.
The Auckland Unitary Plan (AUP) is being developed for the management of the City. Some of its provisions address issues of significance to “Mana Whenua – the people of the land who have customary authority”.
While the plan conveys many worthwhile intentions, certain proposals go too far. They extend beyond any possible requirements of the Treaty of Waitangi or the Resource Management Act, thus raising serious concerns for our democracy.
The calls for equal partnerships, joint management and, in some cases, a transfer of power to Mana Whenua undermine a society based on legal equality and secure private property rights.
AUP’s unconstitutional intentions
….. “It is important to build stable and equal partnerships which enable Mana Whenua to actively and meaningfully participate in the management of natural resources.”
“Enable Mana Whenua to participate in co-management of natural resources”
Ref: Part 1 Chapter B: Regional Policy Statement – Kupu Kaupapa ā-Rohe»1 Issues of regional significance – Ngā take matua ā-rohe»1.4 Addressing issues of significance to Mana Whenua:
“1. Recognise and take into account partnership arrangements and agreements between Mana Whenua and the council when making resource management decisions.
2. Enable the transfer of powers and/or establishment of joint management agreements for certain functions relating to the development and management of ancestral lands, water, air, coastal sites, wāhi tapu and other taonga, and the sustainable management of natural and physical resources, where an iwi authority:
1. has an ancestral connection or mana over a resource
2. has a clear mandate to represent the interests of that iwi, or hapū can demonstrate the ability to fulfill the requirements of the RMA, whether directly or by outsourcing.”
Ref: Part 1 Chapter B: Section 5 ‘Addressing issues of significance to Mana Whenua’ Recognition of Te Tiriti o Waitangi partnerships and participation
While most New Zealanders are willing to respect authentic sacred grounds, the scale and extent of the powers transferred to local iwi causes concern. The AUP identifies over 3,600 new sites “of value and significance to Mana Whenua”, affecting thousands of well-established residential properties. Homeowners will be obliged to seek “iwi approval” before making any alterations to their properties.
(Refer Part 1 Chapter B: Section 5.4; and Part 2 Chapter E: 5.1 and 5.2)
The AUP warns that many other sites and places are likely be added to this extensive list.
(For the current schedule, see Appendix 4.1)
Our main concerns
There has been no mandate sought from the public for this major constitutional change. In fact, there has been very little public discussion, let alone consent.
Adopting policies such as equal partnerships, co-management, the transfer of powers, and the establishment of joint management agreements, would make it impossible for our democratically-elected Council to act in the best interests of all Aucklanders.
There are no obvious limits to the rights to be enjoyed by Mana Whenua and no definitions of “ancestral lands, water, air, coastal sites, wāhi tapu and other taonga”. It is feasible that the 19 local tribes consider they have an ancestral connection to every aspect of Auckland and its surrounds.
The extensive list of “sites of value and significance to Mana Whenua” are unsubstantiated. The powers they give local iwi over homeowners are undefined and unrestricted. This totally undermines private property rights and our personal security.
The Auckland Council is transferring truly extensive political and financial power over much of Auckland to private interests. These iwi representatives are unelected by and unaccountable to the wider community (and often, not even their own constituents). This severely compromises both the principle of equal citizenship and our democracy.
Rest of the country is next
As other parts of New Zealand face amalgamation, they may soon be experiencing a similar crisis under the auspices of their own version of Auckland’s unelected, unaccountable Independent Maori Statutory Board. According to Mai Chen, “Maori apparently like this mechanism as the closest thing to co-governance in local government on offer.” See NZ Herald article: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/main-chen/news/article.cfm?a_id=792&objectid=11164333
What action can you take?
Lobby the Mayor and the Councillors, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Local Government and your local Member of Parliament. Visit them, stop them on the street, and send them a letter or an email. In your own words, tell them your thoughts about race-based co-governance deals. Ask them to do the right thing – to take action to save our democracy.
Tell friends, family and colleagues about this.
Write to your local papers, blogs and social media pages.
Send in a submission. Closing date is 28 February 2014