Free speech blocked at Nelson library

Democracy Action is condemning Nelson City Council and the city library’s decision to withdraw speaking permissions for a public talk on the Treaty of Waitangi by Bruce Moon.

Here is the email sent to Bruce Moon by a representative of the Nelson Institute:


Hi Bruce, 

I am sorry but your talk has been called off. At the Library today NCC, Library officials, and two of us from the Nelson Institute met to discuss your planned talk. All 3 of these groups had been contacted by persons saying you should not be allowed to talk on this topic, in the Library. Both the NCC and the Library felt a talk could disturb the peace and become a Health and Safety issue. 

I made as strong a case as I was able to go ahead, but there were too many dissenting voices and it is, after all, the Library who has to make the final decision as to who may talk in their rooms. 

Thank you for offering to give the talk, perhaps one day we may be able to find a venue without such restrictions. 

Yours Sincerely,
Paul Lunberg


The Council’s cancellation of a library meeting for fear that it would ‘disturb the peace’ and pose health and safety risks would be laughable, if it didn’t display such disregard for the democratic role of public libraries.

Public facilities should provide meeting space for all political views, not limit the free exchange of ideas.

If libraries started censoring their books based on political content, there would be justified outrage. How is the principle any different when it comes to speeches?

Payments for Cultural Impact Assessments should be refunded

Auckland property owners stripped of thousands of dollars to undertake cultural impact assessments should be refunded by the Council.

The High Court decision to dismiss the IMSB's appeal of the Council's decision to remove the remaining ‘Sites and Places of Value to Mana Whenua’ (read more here), confirmed that the Council has inflicted additional costs and uncertainty on Auckland property owners through these cultural impact assessments with little or no justification since they were first introduced in September 2013.

Win in Court


Earlier this week we received Justice Wylie's decision dismissing the High Court appeal by the Independent Maori Statutory Board against the decision made by Auckland Councillors to accept the Independent Hearings Panel’s recommendation to remove the ‘Sites and Places of value to Mana Whenua’ overlay from the Auckland Unitary Plan. Read and download a PDF of the decision here. 

Media release: Unitary Plan committee delegation risks legal challenge


Auckland Council’s decision last Thursday to delegate the first round of decisions relating to the recommendations of the Auckland Unitary Plan Independent Hearings Panel to the Auckland Development Committee is inconsistent with legal advice previously tendered, which advised Councillors of the need to keep ‘an open mind’ in relation to the Unitary Plan, and against consulting with members of the public.

Lee Short, Chairman of Democracy Action, says “The Legal and Risk team at Auckland Council have warned councillors not to engage with their constituents about the Unitary Plan, citing fairness, the need to keep an open mind, and the preservation of the integrity of the public hearings of the Independent Hearings Panel over the last two years. Despite this, the Council has chosen to ignore those considerations by handing over consideration of the Unitary Plan to the Auckland Development Committee, a body which includes two unelected members of the Independent Maori Statutory Board.”

Common sense prevails in Auckland

We are applauding the recommendations of the Independent Hearings Panel to delete Cultural Impact Assessment requirements, and the scheduled “sites of value” from the Auckland Unitary Plan.

The Panel clearly recognises the folly of adopting such a flawed system, a system which was in danger of undermining public support for sites of significant historical and cultural heritage.

Thank you to all of our supporters, and those who have worked tirelessly to oppose these proposals. We are pleased to see that commonsense has prevailed.

Submissions to PAUP oral hearing

The Democracy Action team have been busy preparing and presenting their submissions against the the Mana Whenua provisions within the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan.

The documents below should serve as a great resource for people interested in learning more about the implications for Aucklanders of the Mana Whenua provisions, and why they should be opposed.

We believe in protecting heritage sites throughout Auckland, but think that the process adopted by the Council should be amended in a way that would provide more certainty for property owners, iwi and the Council.

Please click on each of the links to read the full documents. 


Submission on Mana Whenua sites, Lee Short, 4 June 2015 
This submission provides an overview of the problems associated with Auckland Council’s scheduling of sites that have not been verified and the efforts of Democracy Action to catalogue sites that have been found in ridiculous locations including landfills.


Summary of Legal Points, Franks Ogilvie, 4 June 2015
This summary of legal points details how the Sites of Value to Mana Whenua overlay has been incorrectly given immediate effect. The document proceeds to request a declaratory judgment from the Environment Court on the legality of the SVMW overlay, given that there was not adequate consultation with those affected by the changes prior to their implementation.


Points Further to Evidence, Franks Ogilvie, 4 June 2015
The document from Franks Ogilvie lays down the case that Auckland Council has acted in contravention to the rule of law in their drafting and implementation of the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan.


Summary of Proposed Amendments to Chapter B, Franks Ogilvie, 20 November 2014
These proposed amendments suggest an alternative to the Cultural Impact Assessment process for Sites of Significance and argues for the removal of Sites of Value from the overlay. This alternative process would ensure greater certainty for property owners, iwi and the Council.

Iwi Claims for Special Treatment over Water

Currently the Government is holding a series of talks with the Iwi Leaders Group, who are demanding proprietary rights to freshwater.

In September 2012 the Maori King Tuheitia Paki called over 1,000 tribal representatives to Ngaruawahia to discuss the ownership and control of New Zealand’s water. He declared, “We have always owned the water”.

More information (NZ Herald)


Water is a precious public resource, a collective asset that we hold in common. Democracy Action believes that the administration of water must have the public good as its primary aim. All the citizens of New Zealand are stakeholders in this resource, and all citizens should be consulted on its management and allocation. There should be no backroom deals with any sector of the community, whether at the national or regional level.

The control of the freshwater resource should remain in the public domain – in the hands of our democratically elected representatives. No government has the right to secretly transfer management or allocation rights to a selected group – iwi or anyone else.

Please see below links to a selection of articles regarding this issue:

Maori in freshwater bid, The Sunday Star Times, April 12th 2015
Doesn't water come from the sky? Hon. Judith Collins, MP for Pakuranga, April 11th 2015
New Zealand First opposes special privileges over water rights, Rt. Hon. Winston Peters, April 14 2015
Race-based water rights a step closer, Dr. Muriel Newman, New Zealand Centre for Political Research, 19 April 2015
Water yours mine or nobody's, Judge Anthony Willy, New Zealand Centre for Political Research, 19 April 2015
David Round: Questions of water rights and ownership,, 21 April 2015
Mike Butler: Key delegates water give-away,, 12 April 2015

Site of the week 2

ID#3172, Waiuku

The mana whenua provisions don’t just affect sites in downtown Auckland.

One of our eagle-eyed volunteers has tracked down ID#3172, which is right in the middle of a new housing development.


Our volunteer documents: 

“The GPS coordinates lead me to a site that is on a fairly new sub-division (private land). It is within maybe 5m of a section that already has a new house on it, along with a number of long term existing houses. The section the site is on has no building activity on it yet. There has been some reshaping of the land as part of the sub-division work. There were no plaques, monuments or cultural artifacts nearby.”

Given that Bob Jones needed to consult 13 iwi just to replace a window, we can only imagine the lengths these property owners will have to go to.

Do you know of any other housing developments affected or delayed by the presence of a site of significance to mana whenua? Email us what you know.

Site of the week 3

ID#205, East Tamaki

Protected dump

Our volunteer documents:

“The site is on top of the hill that is the former Greenmount municipal landfill that is being remediated by Auckland Council and will become a park with sweeping views. The area is a huge 54ha, bounded by Harris, Smales and Springs Rds. It was bequeathed by the late Mrs SJ Lushington, to be set aside for public recreation purposes. But Manukau City Council used it as a scoria quarry and then a dump instead. It was taken over by an entity of the former Auckland Regional Council. Dumping stopped in 2005. Remediation deposits of up to 1.5million cubic metres of fill are being laid to meet “a final contour level”.

According to a council hearing report (under the RMA, dated July 23, 2014), it has two sites of Maori archaeological origin (sites 206 and 3056), being the former Matanginui Pa site, and a midden near the northern boundary. Judging by the enormous filling activities over decades, it seems unlikely there is any surviving physical signs or features of the pa.”

Remember that thanks to the mana whenua provisions, any earthworks in proximity to a site of significance or value to mana whenua will now need to be checked off with iwi! (For more information click here)

Apparently the Council consider a rubbish dump worthy of protecting!

Site of the week 1

Site of the Week

ID#2028, Mount Eden

The mana whenua provisions don’t just affect homes and businesses, but also community sports groups.

One of our volunteers took the time to track down site #2028, which is nestled somewhere on, in or below the Auckland Table Tennis Association building in the Withiel Thomas Park, as the map shows.

Auckland Table Tennis

Our volunteer got up close to see if there was anything significant.

Volunteer photo

His report:

“The site appears to be situated on top of the Auckland Table Tennis Association building, which does not appear to be of any cultural significance. The Table Tennis building is sisutated within the Withiel Thomas Park. The park was donated to Auckland by Professor Withiel Thomas in 1890. Professor Thomas was a geologist, biologist and educationalist from Cheshire, England. He is known for his early research into the life cycle of the sheep liver fluke. There is no indication that he was Maori or regarded as being mana whenua.”

Community sports groups are usually run on a pretty tight budget. We can only imagine how they would fare if they had to pay mana whenua groups just in order to do rennovations.

Do you know of any other sports or community groups impacted by the presence of a site of significance to mana whenua? Please get in touch.

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