A Gisborne District Councillor says the WAI262 Report is tokenistic and very disappointing. “This report was expected to provide clarity on property rights for Māori, but instead presents a series of schizophrenic findings and recommendations” said Manu Caddie, who is a member of the Gisborne District Council RMA Hearings Committee and the Environment & Policy Committee.
While the report suggests Māori do not have ownership of indigenous flora, fauna and knowledge – the Tribunal found that Māori have ‘kaitiaki obligations’ that should be protected in law.
“The recommendations relating to establishing better mechanisms for iwi and hapū to have input on resource management planning and decision-making are tokenistic and insulting.”
“Article Two of the Treaty clearly says Māori have “undisturbed and exclusive possession of the land, estates and forests” until such time as they choose to relinquish such possession. Through the 20 something years of this claim, Māori have argued they never surrendered their rights to indigenous resources but this report has found otherwise.”
“The Crown set up and controls the Tribunal funding, appointments and its procedures. The Tribunal has effectively denigrated Māori to associated people who have “important knowledge” with entitlement to a “reasonable degree of protection” over flora and fauna. The report found that the Crown “either deliberately or through neglect, has largely supported one of New Zealand’s two founding cultures at the expense of the other” but goes on to recommend a whole lot of mechanisms whereby the Crown can acquire and control Māori intellectual resources not already under its control.”
Mr Caddie, who recently became an accredited decision-maker under Section 39 of the RMA , does support the Tribunal findings that, for the RMA regime to more effectively support kaitiaki relationships, engagement between tangata whenua and local authorities needed to become compulsory, formal, and proactive.
The report recommends the development of a system allowing kaitiaki priorities for the environment to be integrated into local authority decision-making. This system should be built around enhanced ‘iwi resource management plans’ setting out iwi policies and priorities for managing the environment within their tribal areas. These plans should be negotiated with local authorities and, once finalised, should bind local authority decision-making just as regional policy statements, regional plans, and district plans do. For this system to work, the report suggests the Crown will need to provide resources to allow iwi to obtain scientific, legal and other expertise necessary for the development of their plans.
“The Tribunal found that Māori communities do not have the capacity to overcome the obstacles to their effective participation in the RMA system because there are no reliable and sufficient sources of assistance available to Māori.”
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