The Healthy Rivers Wai Ora Plan Change 1 (PC1) is to give effect to the Treaty settlement to improve water quality in the region. It is aimed at addressing the water quality by imposing rules and restricting any change on land use in the rural sector over the next 10 years. However, controversial policies in the Plan, particularly policy 16, would allow iwi to develop land and change the land use when other landowners with similar land are denied.
A North Waikato farmer has made a complaint to the Human Rights Commission about this preferential treatment. The Human Rights Commission originally thought there sounded as if there was a case to answer but when they investigated they decided Waikato Regional Council included Policy 6 and Policy 16 of PC1 to meet RMA obligations to take into account cultural values and redress historical impediments to the development of Treaty Settlement and multiple ownership Maori land. On that basis, he was likely to lose the case at the Human Rights Tribunal. Consequently, they turned down his application for funding for the case.