Democracy Action is alarmed by a number of provisions in the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (PAUP) that provide one class of citizens, loosely defined as “Mana Whenua”, with new and substantial powers over Auckland’s resources and the private property of its citizens.
This erosion of our democratic values brings with it higher development costs and time delays, opaque decision making, inevitable conflicts of interest, and an unacceptable risk of corruption.
Several of the most concerning parts of this ‘proposed’ Plan are already in effect despite them being a radical change to the resource consent processes. We are particularly concerned about the rules pertaining to:
· Sites and places of significance to Mana Whenua
· Sites and places of value to Mana Whenua
· Cultural Impact Assessments (CIAs)
· Cultural harvesting provisions
Concerned about Sites of Value on your property
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Sites and places of significance and of value to Mana Whenua
Under the PAUP Mana Whenua work in co-governance with Council to decide what sites and places will be deemed significant or valuable to them. Chapter B 5.4 outlines a subjective and vague set of criteria for determining this, and recognises Mana Whenua as the ‘experts’ in the process.
There are already over 3600 scheduled sites of value listed in the appendices of the PAUP. It is probable that under the PAUP’s permissive co-governance arrangements this number will continue to grow.
If a private property owner is in the unfortunate position of having their property designated a ‘site or place of value to Mana Whenua’ any minor work cannot involve any excavation or earthworks and will need to be undertaken under the supervision of a mandated Mana Whenua representative under Chapter J5.2, 2.3. This is an unreasonable restriction on individual property rights.
Cultural Impact Assessments
The PAUP requires resource consent applicants to obtain a ‘cultural impact assessment’ from unspecified ‘iwi authorities’ if their proposed work may have adverse effects on ‘Mana Whenua values’ and iwi decide a CIA is needed. Earthworks on or within 50 metres of a site of value of Mana Whenua is a restricted discretionary activity and will require a CIA.
There is no obligation under the Resource Management Act 1991 for resource applicants to consult with any person about the application. The PAUP changes this. Under Chapter G 2.7.4 if an iiwi group decides a cultural impact assessment should be conducted they will have full discretion over how long it will take and what it will cost.
This is not speculation. Democracy Action was shocked to hear Sir Bob Jones story about iwi looking to charge $90 per hour to conduct a six to eight hour CIA to install a window in a 17 story commercial building!
CIAs may be required by any number of Auckland’s 19 iwi groups, and could routinely cost as much as $1500.
We expect that CIA’s will prove costly and burdensome for everyday Aucklanders. In many cases CIAs will be required for minor alterations and improvements such as decks, pools, and subdivisions. This will drive up the cost of building and keep the heat on Auckland’s inflated property market.
Cultural Harvesting Provisions
Chapter H22.214.171.124 (2.d.iv) states that Councils may require rural landowners applying for subdivision to protect natural features by providing appropriate access to any sites and places of significance to Mana Whenua.
A similar rule allows the Council to require the landowner to provide for cultural harvest in accordance with tikanga Maori.
The Human Rights Commission has observed that these rules are only triggered by subdivision, and so a landowner has free choice. With respect, Democracy Action does not consider this sufficiently addresses the problem. Once the council has granted consent, the rights cannot be extinguished privately. This will mean that subdivision will no longer be a commercially attractive option for some landowners. Where land is subdivided and on-sold it will create a new risk for the unwary purchaser.
These rules are an affront to the basic tenets of individual property rights upon which our democracy is built.
Water Resource Allocation
The PAUP allows Mana Whenua to work in partnership with council in deciding how freshwater should be allocated. It also gives them first dibs on any potential geothermal resource.
These provisions infringe our basic property rights and fundamental legal norms. Their implementation, in the form of co-governance, runs counter to the fundamental tenets of our proud democratic tradition.