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APRIL 2024

A new government usually means changes to laws, and we have seen this aplenty since the Coalition Government came to power. Having set a government record for laws passed under urgency in its first 100 days, the government is busy on its next action plan, spanning from 1 April until 30 June. This plan is available by clicking HERE.

It is disappointing to find that promised changes to the Marine and Coastal Area Act are not on this list. In the meantime, more of New Zealand’s coastline is being awarded to claimant groups. In another shock decision, Justice Cheryl Gwyn has awarded customary title and other rights over nearly 150 kms of the south Wairarapa Coast to several groups. At this rate, the entire coastline of New Zealand could well end up under the control of iwi groups unless the law is changed. The Coalition Government has promised to address this issue, but so far, they have taken no action - and there appears to be no sense of urgency to do so, despite numerous claims being prepared for court hearings nationwide. Indeed, claims for both the Whangārei Harbour and the north Wairarapa Coast are currently being heard in the High Court. For further information on this issue, read the article below at: THE RISING TIDE OF CUSTOMARY RIGHTS OVER THE FORESHORE AND SEABED.

If you feel strongly about this issue, please contact coalition MPs to share your concerns.

The government’s legislation to enable a fast-track decision-making process for infrastructure and development projects that are considered to have significant regional or national benefits is currently at the select committee stage. The deadline to make submissions on the Fast Track Approvals Bill is fast approaching – the last day is Friday 19 April. You can read more about this in our summary below at: THE CONTROVERSIAL FAST TRACK APPROVALS BILL.

Also on the horizon is the upcoming local body elections for Tauranga City Council, scheduled for 20 July 2024. This is the first time Tauranga citizens will have the chance to vote for their representatives since 2019. Read more about this at DEMOCRACY TO BE RESTORED FOR TAURANGA AT LAST.

Keeping the score

We are continuing to keep tabs on government progress to restore democracy in areas where it has been undermined – see ‘Is the government staying true to its promises?’

We are pleased to report the following developments:

  • Plans are progressing to replace the Labour government’s Three Waters regime. Minister of Local Government, Simeon Brown recently released the key steps to implementing replacement legislation. You can read more about this at Delivering on Local Water Done Well | Beehive.govt.nz
  • The restoration of the right to local referendums on the establishment and ongoing use of Māori wards. The government’s decision means that councils that have established Māori wards since 2020 without a poll can disestablish them. If they don’t do this, citizens will be able to vote on them at the next local body election in 2025. You can read more about this in a Simeon Brown media release here: Coalition Government to require referendums on Māori wards

It is pleasing to see more people speaking up in defense of democratic governance and equality of citizenship. Several particularly interesting commentaries have been published lately. We have a sample here at: ‘further news, views, opinions………’ Many more are posted on the Democracy Action Facebook page. Please check in regularly.

Please share our newsletters with anyone who may be interested. It is common to encounter people who believe that the foreshore and seabed matter was resolved in 2004 with the implementation of the Foreshore and Seabed Act, highlighting a dire lack of awareness in the community concerning the issues we cover.

Thank you for your continued interest and support. If you have any suggestions you would like to offer, or if you need further information or help, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]

And please help spread the message by sharing our newsletters with anyone who may be interested. You can receive further updates by registering or joining us.

Kind regards,

Susan Short

[email protected]


Local body elections for Tauranga City Council are scheduled for 20 July 2024, the first since 2019. Continue reading


It is generally acknowledged that excessive red tape is hindering much-needed infrastructure projects in New Zealand. According to the Minister for RMA Reform, Chris Bishop, “Consenting major projects in New Zealand takes far too long and is far too expensive.” In response, the government recently announced its solution - the Fast Track Approvals Bill  - in a bid to make it easier to get infrastructure built. However, concerns are being raised about the undemocratic and the racialised nature of this proposed legislation. Continue reading


In another shock decision made under the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act, the High Court has awarded Māori groups customary title and other exclusive rights to the entire South Wairarapa coastline, stretching over approximately 150 kilometres.  Justice Cheryl Gwyn has granted five Customary Marine Titles over the area to multiple iwi and hapū groups. Three of these sections cover an area up to 3km out to sea from the high-water springs, while the other two extend out to 10km. Continue reading

Further news, views, and opinions.......

Please see further items posted on the Democracy Action Facebook page Continue reading