Latest News

Three Waters reform to give iwi/Māori dominating influence

As the Government releases more information about its Three Waters reforms, it is becoming obvious that the proposed system is to be dominated by the rights and interests of iwi/Māori. The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) Three Waters paper ‘Opportunities for Iwi/Māori in the Three Waters Reform’ sets out how this will be achieved.  Continue reading

Do your Council’s representation arrangements fail the equal rights test?

Councils owe a duty of fair representation to all the citizens they represent, yet this fundamental principle of democratic governance is being ignored by councils as they build “Treaty partnerships” with their Māori citizens. This is very apparent at Rotorua Lakes Council, where undemocratic arrangements have been introduced to “strengthen the voice of Māori in our decision making”.  Continue reading

Iwi avarice trumps conservation values on West Coast

The West Coast Conservation Board is mired in what appears to be an intractable conflict of interest between conservationist and iwi commercial interests. Three members of the DOC West Coast Conservation Board (the Board) have recently resigned after being the subject of personal attacks, including being labelled racist for raising what they see as conflicts between the interests of conservation and the commercial interests of Ngāi Tahu.  Continue reading

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

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

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

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

Three Waters Reform – further constitutional change by stealth

In another step in what the Government terms ‘partnership-based reform’ Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta last week released further information on plans to move the ownership and management of water infrastructure from local councils into the hands of four multi-regional water service entities across New Zealand. This information includes the proposed boundaries of the four water providers, and further details on the proposed water services entities - including governance arrangements, how they would be regulated, and the role of iwi. Nanaia Mahuta stated: “The Government will continue to work with the sector, iwi and industry on some of the details to give these transformational reforms the best chance of success. We will be making further announcements in the coming weeks, including a three waters reform support package for councils and their communities’’. Continue reading

Crown not appealing foreshore and seabed decision

The decision last month by Justice Peter Churchman is the first major case under the foreshore and seabed legislation, the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011, which replaced Labour's foreshore and seabed law. The decision awarded customary title in three parts of Eastern Bay of Plenty to six hapū of Whakatohea.  Justice Churchman’s decision elevated the status of Maori “tikanga” above the common law tests in the Marine and Coastal Area Act. This means that unless the judgement is overturned, it is likely to have a significant impact not only on the claims process, but on New Zealand’s legal system as well. If this judgement is allowed to stand, it is likely that hundreds of claims for customary marine title – involving most if not all the coastline – will succeed. The Crown considered lodging an appeal against this decision, but has decided not to. Instead, the Attorney-General has applied to appear as an intervenor to assist the court. Any expectation that the government would act in the interests of the rest of New Zealand have been dashed.  Lodging an appeal has been left up to a self-funded private group to act in the public interest. Continue reading