Sunday, June 28, 2015
Sarah Taylor: Race-based plan in HB merger
Residents of Hawke’s Bay have a postal vote starting August 24, 2015, to decide whether or not the Hastings, Napier, Wairoa, Central Hawke’s Bay councils, and the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, should merge as a single council with a regional planning committee, a Maori Board, and a natural resources board.
Inclusion of the regional planning committee and a Maori board in the final proposal for amalgamation in Hawke’s Bay would bring race-based representation to local government in the region by stealth, when this style of representation is heavily opposed elsewhere in New Zealand.
The regional planning committee, which is supposed to be made up of 10 iwi appointees and 10 councillors, is up and running despite the regional council having only nine councillors and despite the fact that the bill legalising this committee has not been passed. The iwi appointees are full voting committee members.
The Hawke's Bay Regional Planning Committee Bill, to create co-governance stipulated in local tribal group Ngati Pahauwera's Deed of Settlement, is a radical bill which delivers, under the guise of "cultural redress", permanent co-management over natural resources in Hawke's Bay to nine local treaty settlement groups.
Ngati Pahauwera's treaty settlement also suggests that co-governance may also be extended to land zoning and use. This happened in Auckland, with building consents, with applicants required to pay 19 tribal groups as part of the process.
Regional councillor Christine Scott said: "This is no sub-committee. It is a full committee of council with decision-making powers. It is the only decision maker on all matters pertaining to resource management plans. While its decisions are in the form of recommendations to council, council cannot amend them".
Councillor Scott is able to talk with authority over the powers of the committee, because the committee was established in 2012 ahead of the legislation.
Legislation would entrench the committee so that ratepayers have no democratic mechanism for controlling iwi/hapu appointees and no mechanism to discharge the committee except by unanimous agreement of those iwi/hapu.
Tribal appointees do not have to stand for office, nor can ratepayers vote them out of office. This is not only profoundly undemocratic but threatens to disrupt the management of the region's natural resources as iwi/hapu unite in collective self-interest.
These groups represent just nine small treaty settlement groups and not the 34,662 people with some Maori ancestry who live in Hawke's Bay. However there is nothing preventing the committee being stacked through the democratically elected seats, as iwi/hapu members also vote on the general ratepayer roll.
Alarming are the conflict of interest provisions in the bill's schedule which states "a member of the planning committee is not precluded from … voting on a matter merely because - the economic, social , cultural and spiritual value of an iwi or hapu.. are advanced by … participation by the member".
Yet members of the post-settlement governance entities who put their people on the committee are solely concerned with the interests of their beneficiaries with no mandate to consider the broader interests of Hawke's Bay residents.
For instance, Ngati Kahungunu, represented by claimant group He Toa Takitini, wants "tangata whenua" interests in water incorporated into the regional plan while saying Ngati Kahungunu have never relinquished their rights and interests in water.
Unbelievably, the regional council made a submission on behalf of local ratepayers in favour of the bill. Why weren't we notified or consulted?
This bill that establishes special legal entitlements based on race drives an artificial wedge between citizens with Maori ancestry and those without.
Furthermore, New Zealand is a founding member of the United Nations whose charter forbids discrimination on the grounds of race. Did our elected representatives, our councillors and MPs, consider that when voting in favour of this profoundly undemocratic bill.
Opposition to this race-based committee is a good reason to vote “no” to amalgamation. This would give the Treaty Negotiations Minister a message that he should drop this pernicious bill.
at 4:16 PM