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August 2021

It takes a lot to get middle New Zealand riled up enough to protest, but the Groundswell movement has tapped into discontent with the Government over a raft of issues. The organisers were blown away by the overwhelming support they received for their ‘Howl of Protest’ action, and very pleased by the reportedly unprecedented turnouts in 55 towns and cities across the country - it is estimated 30-40 thousand people, with their tractors, utes, and dogs, hit the streets nationwide. This is no mean feat - congratulations to all involved!

One issue causing concern involves recommendations in the He Puapua report. Despite protestations from Prime Minister Ardern that it is not government policy, there is mounting evidence that plans are being enacted to progressively implement the recommendations, which includes ‘breaking’ our constitutional arrangements to replace democracy with an inequitable constitution, giving a group of citizens claiming to represent the 16.7 percent of the population with Māori heritage 50 percent of the decision-making power – or more in some cases. We are seeing this in the Education, Health, and the Three Waters reforms, and in Te Mana o te Taiao - the Government’s proposed strategy on indigenous biodiversity. This strategy document would require people at all levels - central and local government, industry, non-government organisations, scientists, landowners, communities, and individuals - to partner with whānau, hapū, iwi. This applies to all land - including private land - as well as all freshwater, estuaries and wetlands, and the marine environment from the coastline to the outer edges of the Exclusive Economic Zone and the extended continental shelf.

Author John Robinson has recently published a book clarifying the threat to the rights and liberties of all ‘other’ New Zealanders posed by He Puapua, He Puapua – Blueprint for Breaking up New Zealand. This book explains the full implications of implementing the recommendations in the report. I have not read it yet but am looking forward to finding out what John has to say. Copies can be ordered from Tross Publishing

Other recommended reading on this issue includes the paper by Elizabeth Rata, ‘The Road to He Puapua – Is there really a Treaty partnership?’, in which Elizabeth examines the concept of a Treaty of Waitangi partnership and describes the path to the policy of now including the Treaty principles in most legislation.

Last call! Two deadlines looming.

This week sees at least two deadlines for having your say on government policy.

  • Public feedback on the preliminary draft of the proposed Natural and Built Environments Act, (as partial replacement of the RMA), closes in 2 days’ time - at 11:59pm on Wednesday 4th August. Proposals include a plan to amalgamate each council’s district plan into less than 20 regional plans run by government-appointed planning committees. And in a move very likely to be at odds with the aim of reducing the time and cost taken to consent projects, it is proposed that the new law will "give effect" to the Treaty of Waitangi (previously "have regard to"). Finding out what “give effect” to the Treaty means will keep lawyers in clover for years. See the article below for more information, and where to make a submission.

  • Another fast-approaching deadline is the opportunity to have a say on the so-called ‘Hate Speech’ discussion document, which will be considered for the yet-to-be drafted Bill. Please read more on this issue below. Submissions close Friday 6th August. (The theory is that there is a greater likelihood the public can influence policy at the discussion document stage than making a submission on a Bill. So, if you share our concerns, please give it a go!).

This month’s newsletter also includes an update on the proposed Three Waters Water Services delivery programme, with a suggestion to contact your local council to express your opinion. As the Mayor of Westland District Council explains in two explanatory video recordings, The Three Waters Journey and Three waters update“the case for change has not been proven.”

In the wake of the removal of the poll provision on Māori wards, more changes are also in the pipeline for local government – please see the article below for info on the Government’s next steps. And, as many councils are currently undertaking representation reviews, we suggest you visit your council website to see if your council is one of them. If so, please consider having a say on any proposed options.

Lastly, a big thank you to those who volunteered to deliver flyers to publicise the petition to return New Zealand to a true democracy - blisters and all! And a reminder to those who have not yet added your name that it closes on Sunday 8th August. It is available by clicking HERE.

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]

Loss of local control but greater role for iwi/hapū in resource management

Your chance to have a say on the preliminary draft of the Natural and Built Environments Act - one of three to replace the RMA - is running out fast. This opportunity closes in 2 days’ time - at 11:59 pm on Wednesday 4th August. There is not much in the preliminary draft of the Government’s proposed resource management reforms that will meet the stated aim of reducing the cost and time taken to consent projects or simplify the rules for building houses. On the contrary, rather than simplify some of the proposals will add to the complications.  Continue reading

Last call! Have your say on proposed ‘hate speech’ legislation

Submissions close Friday 6th August Since releasing its discussion document aimed at seeking opinions before the Government comes up with hate speech law changes, the proposals have been met with ‘don’t do it’ pleas from all sides of the political spectrum. Continue reading

Government plans to seize ratepayers’ assets - without compensation

Local Government Minister Hon Nanaia Mahuta has announced further details of the Government's regulatory and structural reform of water service delivery in New Zealand. The plan is for an unprecedented transfer of billions of dollars of ratepayer-funded assets from local bodies to four entities. Continue reading

Local Government update

Government plans a local government system that actively embodies the Treaty partnership. On 23 April 2021 the Minister of Local Government established a review into the future for Local Government:  “The overall purpose of the Review is, as a result of the cumulative changes being progressed as part of the Government’s reform agenda, to identify how our system of local democracy and governance needs to evolve over the next 30 years, to improve the wellbeing of New Zealand communities and the environment, and actively embody the Treaty partnership”. Continue reading

Proposed biodiversity strategy - another opportunity to implement He Puapua

One of the recommendations in He Puapua consists of a joint sphere of management and governance of resources. This policy is being promoted in the government's Te Mana o te Taiao Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy. Te Mana o te Taiao is a 30-year plan to protect and restore New Zealand’s biodiversity, covering all domains – land, fresh water, estuaries and wetlands, and the marine environment from the coastline to the outer edges of the Exclusive Economic Zone and the extended continental shelf. This includes all land – public, private, and Māori-owned land. Continue reading