< November 2020 newsletter

Ngāi Tahu to Minister: No appointments without us

Ngāi Tahu is mounting a legal challenge to the (former) Minister of Conservation's appointment decisions for the West Coast Conservation Board. It appears the iwi has a beef with the Minister for having the impudence to reappoint a member of the board without engagement with tangata whenua and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu as treaty partner.

The iwi has been at odds with the board since last year, when member Dr Keith Morfett was elected as chair, defeating Ngāti Waewae chairman Francois Tumahai, who holds a community seat on the board.

Ngāi Tahu chief executive Lisa Tumahai confirmed the rūnanga has filed for a judicial review of the minister's appointment process, alleging that she (Minister Eugenie Sage) acted unlawfully. Ms Tumahai said the iwi had been trying unsuccessfully for some time to get the Crown to treat it as a true partner, and comply with Section 4 of the Conservation Act and the Ngāi Tahu Settlement Act.

Section 4 says the Crown must give effect to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and the Ngāi Tahu Act says it must cooperate with the iwi.

 In a letter to the then Minister, the Ngāi Tahu deputy chairperson Matapura Ellison wrote: "The process taken does not meet the expectations of (Ngāi Tahu) as a Treaty partner. It is unclear how you have been able to fulfil your duty to have regard to the interests of tangata whenua when engagement on the reappointment has not occurred”.

West Coast Conservation Board chair Dr Morfett said "The board is not privy to the details of the review except that the case is entirely between Ngāi Tahu and the minister and our board is not named in the documentation. The court action must therefore have implications for all conservation boards."

Media coverage

RNZ: Ngāi Tahu pull out of West Coast Conservation Board again

RNZ: Ngāi Tahu off to court over West Coast Conservation Board row

Ngāi Tahu takes Government to court again - this time over water

Earlier this month Ngāi Tahu lodged legal action seeking a declaration that the tribe has rangatiratanga over all rivers and lakes in its area – virtually the entire South Island. According to Ngāi Tahu, rangatiratanga over water means that Ngāi Tahu has rights, responsibilities and obligations relating to the freshwater in its area, including doing what it can to stop the degradation of waterways and the environment.

Environment Minister David Parker would not comment on Ngāi Tahu's legal action other than to say: "We intend to advance water allocation issues in this term of government."

Media coverage

NZ Herald: Ngai Tahu takes court action over South Island lakes and rivers

Go back to the November 2020 newsletter


No place for democracy in Ngāi Tahu grab for political power

Oral submissions on the bill to entrench Ngāi Tahu seats on Environment Canterbury were heard by the Māori Affairs Committee last week – and those who watched the proceedings report that there were considerably more presentations in opposition than those in support. Continue reading

There is literally a huge amount at stake here!

The Government is considering legislative changes in order to fast-track the review of 2.5 million hectares of Crown-owned land known as “stewardship land.” That is around nine per cent of New Zealand’s total land area! The proposed process is set to reduce public scrutiny, and favour those with vested interests. You have until Friday 18 March to have your say. Continue reading

Submission on the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngāi Tahu Representation) Bill

  WRITTEN SUBMISSION Democracy Action does not support the Bill.  We do not support establishing iwi-based power by appointment in our governance arrangements. Therefore, we oppose the purpose of the Act, that is, to enable Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu to appoint up to 2 members to the Canterbury Regional Council.  We urge the Government to reject the Bill in its entirety.  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

No to designated seats for Ngāi Tahu representatives on CRC

Last month we celebrated as the Canterbury Regional Council Ngai Tahu Representation Bill was voted down in parliament. Following this welcome news, hopefully many have written to Simon Bridges, Winston Peters and David Seymour to show appreciation for their stand, and to congratulate Shane Jones and Nick Smith for their speeches against the bill, as reported on RadioNZ, available HERE. If you have not done so, it’s not too late, we are sure they’d love to hear from you. Continue reading

Good News - designated seats for Ngāi Tahu voted down

New Zealand First has scuppered Labour's bid to give Ngāi Tahu permanent seats on the Canterbury Regional Council, saying its special treatment for Māori. Shane Jones acknowledged the party's long-held position against separate seats for Māori on local body councils. Continue reading

Update on the Three Waters Reform Programme

Early last year many of us made submissions on the Water Services Regulator Bill. Following the public consultation process the Government passed the Taumata Arowai – Water Services Regulator Act in July 2020. The reform programme is now being progressed through a voluntary, partnership-based approach with the local government sector, alongside iwi/Māori as the Crown’s Treaty Partner.  Continue reading

Partnership trumps good governance - the Taupō water monitoring deal

The Waikato Regional Council is planning to outsource the monitoring of the waters in and around Lake Taupo and its tributaries to the Tūwharetoa Maori Trust Board. This is despite the Council having identified the risk that it may be expected to undertake similar agreements with other iwi authorities or local authorities that may result in not being able to deliver on expectations due to competing priorities.   Continue reading

Influential role for Maori at new Water Services Regulator

Taumata Arowai—the Water Services Regulator Bill, open for public submissions until 4th March, seeks to create a new water regulator - to be called Taumata Arowai. The Bill includes provision for a Maori advisory group to work alongside this new Crown entity. The Maori Advisory Group is another manifestation of the government’s commitment to support agencies to form true partnerships with Māori "by actively facilitating new prototype partnerships between the Crown and Māori", as outlined in a cabinet paper released in July 2019, 'Building Closer Partnerships with Māori'. Continue reading

Iwi seeking governance of the Marine & Coastal Area, and authority over water

On March 26 Maori claimants from around the country gathered to make submissions to the Waitangi Tribunal for the rights to their coastal water areas, saying that since the foreshore and seabed march in 2004, progress has been slow in recognising iwi governance of their marine and coastal areas. Continue reading

Overhaul of conservation legislation underway

The government is undertaking a comprehensive reform of conservation legislation. Currently, it is consulting on a set of targeted amendments to legislation regarding conservation management planning, and the concessions system. Continue reading