Resource management

Waitangi tribunal confirms iwi leads resource management reforms

The Waitangi court dismissed a challenge by some Maori organizations over the role of iwi in resource management reforms, saying it found no breach of the treaty.

By Jamie Tahana for RNZ

But he endorsed the role of non-tribal organizations like the Maori Council having a role in the reforms.

As part of its Natural and Built Environments Bill, the government has proposed regional planning committees with Māori representatives, with the iwi and hapū playing a leading role in their appointment.

But the Maori Council, backed by pan-urban groups like the Federation of Maori Authorities, filed an urgent complaint last month, saying it too deserved a prominent role.

To do otherwise, they argued, would be a violation and that post-settlement iwi organizations were Crown constructs that did not represent all Maori.

This claim outraged many iwi organizations, including Ngāti Whātua and Ngāi Tahu, who said that as mana whenua they were best placed to determine representation on their lands.

In his submission, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu expounded the structures of his 18 papatipu rūnanga and how it was the mana whenua of Te Waipounamu.

The post-colonization entities, he argued, were not Western, but a modernization of iwi and hapū structures.

In response, several iwi said that the Māori Council – formed by legislation in the 1960s – was a westernized institution that many whānau would not have heard of.

In its interim report released on Friday, the Tribunal found no breaches in the establishment of the representative bodies, but noted that details were still being worked out.

But he also said organizations like the Maori Council should be involved in the process.

“We have found that the Crown’s proposal that iwi and hapū should direct and facilitate the decision-making process of an appointing body complies with the treaty at a high level of principle,” he wrote.

“Noting that all the details had not been decided at the time of the hearing.”

In a statement, the New Zealand Maori Council said it endorsed the findings.

“The Waitangi Court recognizes that not only iwi, but also hapū, urban Maori communities and Maori landowners all have a role to play,” he said.

“The Maori Council of New Zealand supports the inclusive approach the Tribunal has taken as consistent with tikanga.”

Maori Council National Secretary Peter Fraser said representation was an important issue that needed to be considered by the court.

“The board’s main concern was that the proposed bill would incorporate a narrow selection process centered on iwi and focused only on post-establishment governance entities,” Fraser said.

“The council was of the view that for the planning process to be legitimate, it had to be representative and inclusive of hapū, Māori communities and landowners.”

However, the Tribunal said it was unable to form an opinion on the overall process, keeping an eye on how the treaty settlements will be transferred into the new system.

“Bespoke arrangements negotiated through treaty settlements and other processes could potentially override or even displace the proposed nomination process in some areas,” he writes.

“This has naturally led to a loss of confidence in the Crown’s ability to deliver what is on offer, and most parties have expressed doubts about this situation.”

One example is the Ngāi Tahu Act 1996, where existing provisions could override proposed reforms, with the iwi stating: “The problem with the Crown’s proposal, from the perspective of the Ngāi Tahu, is that it is ambiguous and does not state it expressly. will comply with its obligations under the Treaty to Ngāi Tahu. »

The Crown responded that it would review the settlement deeds and work directly with iwi to ensure settlements take place.

A statement that hardly reassured Ngāi Tahu: “Until the Crown’s proposal expressly states that it will be bound by legislation, Te Rūnana’s view

“Until the Crown’s proposal expressly states that it will be bound by this legislation, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu’s view is that it is inconsistent with its treaty and statutory obligations. “