< October 2018 newsletter

October 2018 Bonus Edition

Several members who were unable to attend our special meeting on Sunday 7th October have requested a report on the ‘Sea Change versus democracy in the Hauraki Gulf’ presentation given by Auckland Councillor Mike Lee.

Mike has been a local body representative in the Auckland region for over 26 years, having lived and worked in the Hauraki Gulf and Waitemata ward for most of his life. He was invited to address Democracy Action about the power play currently underway for the control of the Gulf.

Please see below a summary of the most important points Mike made, which I trust does justice to the essence of his presentation.

Mike opened his address with the arrival of Captain Cook to these shores, 250 years ago next year. He quoted a passage from a Joseph Bank’s journal, which described an incident whereby Tahitian born translator, Tupaia, in answer to a challenge by Maori, said “ While we are at sea, you have no manner of business with us. The sea is as much our property as it is yours”.

Mike referred to this quote as the nub of his presentation.

Mike went on to talk about more recent history, such as the establishment of the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park in 1967, which was followed by the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park in the year 2000. The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act had broad but not unanimous support - for instance the Mayors of Auckland and Maori politicians were not keen. “The legislation that came out was somewhat a compromise, and never quite complete, in my view” Mike said.

Under this Act the Hauraki Gulf Forum was established to promote and facilitate the integrated management and the protection and enhancement of the Hauraki Gulf. Mike Lee is one of the Auckland Council representatives on this body. Membership of the Forum is a collection of:

  • 13 elected representatives of Auckland Council, Waikato Regional Council, Thames-Coromandel, Hauraki, Waikato and Matamata-Piako District Councils, which have statutory responsibilities for the coastal marine area of the Hauraki Gulf;
  • three ministerial representatives of DOC, MPI, and Maori Affairs; and
  • six iwi representatives.

In Mike’s view the Forum has not been that successful. “There has not been a full-hearted attitude from the powers that be to really make the Marine Park work”.

After setting the scene historically, Mike brought us up to date with information about the ‘Sea Change’ Marine Spatial Plan, and the push for co-governance of the Hauraki Gulf.  In answer to questions from the audience, he also briefly touched on the Maunga Authority, the Auckland Plan, the political situation, and advice on what we can do about issues of concern.

Please see below a list of key points Mike made relating to each of the issues:

The Hauraki Gulf Marine Spatial Plan - ‘Sea Change’

  • In 2012, Sea Change came about after NGOs, especially the Environmental Defence Society, lobbied for a marine spatial plan. It was sold as a means of fixing environmental problems.
  • Despite the Hauraki Gulf Forum being tailor-made to oversee the creation of a marine spatial plan, it was not wanted. Iwi representatives inside the Forum led a strong battle to exclude the Forum from having oversight of the plan.
  • Instead they pushed for a steering group made up of a 50/50 co-governance body, membership made up of eight iwi representatives, and eight other people representing all the rest.
  • Mike remarked that the people of Waiheke were largely shut out.
  • It became obvious early on that the people driving this project had no appreciation of, and no interest in working within the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act.
  • The plan took nearly four years to produce, made public early 2017.
  • Mike said there are worthy things in the plan, but one of the key recommendations is about co governance. “So, the body that started the process was like, start the way you intend to go on, which was why they were so fiercely opposed to the Forum. Even though the Forum has very good Maori representation, it wasn’t good enough – they wanted it 50/50 representation - and then you get the chair”.
  • In terms of the environmental and the marine reserve approach, the plan is weak.
  • Four types of marine protected areas are recommended. Mike highlighted two of these:
    • No take reserves, except for iwi cultural harvesting rights, with a 25-year review.
    • Ahu Moana reserves. Mike said this is the main change being pushed. These reserves are quite a radical concept, covering 2,550 sq. kms - the entire coastline of the Gulf, around every island and every marine reserve, out to one km from the coastline. It is proposed that this area is to be governed by local iwi and the local communities in 50/50 co-governance arrangements.
  • The Environmental Defence Society - particularly Raewyn Peart - are campaigning for the Hauraki Gulf Forum to be transformed into a governing body along racial lines.
  • Currently there is a lot of lobbying going on through the government, and agencies such as Forest & Bird, pushing the Sea Change co-governance line.
  • In relation to the plan, Mike said: “A lot of the stuff requires legislation changes, almost, in my view constitutional changes.”
  • Mike is concerned that the new government ministers, who are inexperienced and very politically correct, may be easily swayed.
  • He urged us to voice our concerns to our own MPs.

The Hauraki Gulf Forum

  • There is a campaign underway to transform the Hauraki Gulf Forum from a consultative, integrating body to a smaller governing body based on the 50/50 co-governance model, consisting of iwi and others.
  • Last year, authors of the Hauraki Gulf Forum Governance Review, Paul Beverley and the Chief Executive of the Waikato Regional Authority, appeared before the Forum urging that it agree to reform itself on racial ‘co-governance’ lines. It was at this point that Waiheke’s Paul Walden intervened to move a procedural motion, reminding the Forum that before supporting any recommendations to change the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, Forum members must consult with their parent agencies and the general public. Mike commented that the move by those pushing for co-governance was a ‘try on’, and that they must know it is not lawful for the Forum to change itself. He added that they also had a lot of influence over the previous Forum Chair, John Tregidga.
  • Since this meeting there have been several changes to the membership of the Forum, including a new Chair and deputy chair. One notable addition has been the Mayor of Thames-Coromandel District Council, Sandra Goudie, who is very forceful in articulating the democratic, public interest approach.
  • Mike suspects this push for co governance is being used as a way of levering Treaty settlements with the aim of giving iwi control over large areas of the Gulf.
  • Mike believes councils need to get behind the Forum and take it seriously.
  • Mike thanked Democracy Action for being a public watchdog. He said the members of the Hauraki Gulf Forum find it helpful and encouraging to see our presence at the meetings of the Forum.

In answer to questions from the audience, he also made some points regarding the following issues:

The Auckland Plan 2050

  • Although supposedly only a review of the original Auckland Plan, (which was adopted in 2012), the current version has changed fundamentally in comparison to the original.
  • The new version emphasises race-based provisions in favour of the people who claim mana whenua status over Auckland.

Mike added that council officers are extremely sensitive to iwi demands, not so sensitive in terms of democracy or the public interest.

The Maunga Authority

  • The Maunga Authority is the outcome of Maori politics.
  • Doug Graham facilitated the deal, somewhat naively according to Mike, whereby most of the maunga of Auckland are now owned by an iwi collective, and administered by a co- governance body.
  • The Maori members on this co-governance body have most of the say so.
  • Funding comes from the ratepayers. Mike added that “Lots more money is now being spent”.
  • Mike recommended anyone who has a complaint over the upkeep of the maunga to get in touch with the Authority, and to email Mike and he’ll take it up.

Mike urged us all to talk to our own MPs about our concerns

Mike continued with a warning to be aware of the quasi reforms that are undermining democratic governance in New Zealand. He also expressed the following observations:

  • The people leading iwi seem to be engaging in transitional demands tactics, and it is working. They are working through a strategy and are achieving things.
  • The pendulum has swung to quite an extreme level, and wonders whether the changes will ever be undoable without civil discord and division.
  • Things have got out of balance. “I do worry about the consequences.” Mike wonders what kind of world we are leaving for our children and grandchildren.
  • Where Pakeha New Zealanders have been weak is that they have not been much interested in our history. This lack of knowledge disarms them in terms of these debates.
  • Mike believes that the government are/have been extremely naive about Treaty settlements. There are two conflicting concepts as to what ‘settlement’ means. While the Crown thinks that a settlement means the matter is done and dusted, it will not work out that way. Modern Maori see things differently - they believe a Treaty settlement is not the end, it is just the beginning – they have their money but want more - they want to be running the country, basically.

“But what can we do?” Mike’s advice included the following:

  • Maybe it’s time to for a different approach, to make this work better in a non-racial way – without avoiding or disrespecting traditional Maori rights.
  • The left wing/right wing concept is passed its use by date. When making decisions we must set such politics aside and ask the following questions:
    • Is this democratic?
    • Is this in the public interest?
    • Is this in the national interest?
    • Is this in the interest of us, our children our grandchildren? What kind of world are we leaving for them?
  • If we want to have more balance, we must be strategic ourselves. Mike suggested we work on issues on which we are well informed, know that the public would be on our side, and would be in the best interests of everyone, including Maori – like standing our ground on the Hauraki Gulf.

Mike concluded by urging us to speak out for democracy, and call out the attempt to undermine democracy and the public interest and public rights over the Hauraki Gulf.

Peter, on behalf of Democracy Action, expressed our gratitude to Mike for the time and effort he took to share his thoughts with us, which he did in a very frank and interesting manner.

Judging from the comments made by those who attended, everyone appeared to be very pleased they had come along to hear what Mike had to say, and were very impressed by the depth of his knowledge and understanding of the issues we face.

FYI, please see a copy of Mike’s article ‘Sea Change versus democracy in the Hauraki Gulf’ HERE.

If you have any questions, please contact us at: [email protected]

Kind regards,

Susan Short
Democracy Action

Go back to the October 2018 newsletter


Invitation to hear Councillor Mike Lee speak on the Sea Change Plan

Democracy Action invites you to an address by Mike Lee – Waitemata and Gulf Ward Councillor on Auckland Council. Mike is very concerned about proposed threats to democracy as advocated in the Sea Change Hauraki Gulf Marine Spatial Plan. He outlined his concerns in an article first published in the Gulf News on 21 June, now available on Mike’s website HERE. Continue reading

Iwi-only fishing areas given thumbs up by select committee

The parliamentary select committee considering the Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill has presented its report to the House of Representatives. Notably, it has ignored coalition agreement promises by endorsing provisions granting race-based customary fishing in High Protection Areas (HPAs). Continue reading

Need help with submitting on Hauraki Gulf Marine Protection Bill?

We are aware there is a wide range of views on how to protect the Gulf, which is why we were hesitant to include a form submission for the Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill.However, several people have asked for help. Accordingly, we have put together a simple submission, which you are welcome to use as a template for your own. Please click here to read. Continue reading

Submission on the Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill

We have put together a simple submission on the Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill, which you are welcome to use as a template for your own. Remember the final day for submissions is Wednesday 1 November. Continue reading

New marine protection reserves not created equal for all

Under special legislation recently introduced to parliament, marine protection areas are to triple the total area under protection in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. These areas include some of the most favoured fishing spots in the Gulf and the Coromandel coast, such as parts of the Mokohīnau Islands, the Noises, Aldermen Islands, western and northern Coromandel, Little Barrier Island, Kawau Island, and Tiritiri Matangi Island. Continue reading

Marine protection secondary to ‘customary rights’

Although all looks well on the surface, it is well documented that the Hauraki Gulf is under stress. Sedimentation, pollution, overfishing, and poor fishing practices are all taking their toll on these beautiful waters. Marine mammals, fish and seabird species are dwindling in numbers. So, not before time, plans are underway to reverse this decline and revitalise the Gulf. However, the plan comes with a few fish hooks of its own. Continue reading

Co-governance advocates bully dissenter on Hauraki Gulf Forum

  Below is an email sent to members of the Gulf Users Group on 28 April 2022: I am writing to bring your attention to an attempt by the Hauraki Gulf Forum’s co-chairs to muzzle Auckland Councillor John Watson, a Forum member, after he shared on social media our NZ Herald advertisement. This advert named the five local body councillors who voted to introduce a new 50:50 co-governance arrangement with mana whenua and ‘others’ to manage the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. Furthermore, these five Councillors failed to seek a mandate from the public and ignored the concerns of thousands that had signed our petition or emailed Forum members. Continue reading

Hauraki Gulf Forum votes on co-governance proposal

Thank you to all who joined the action over at the Gulf Users Group by signing their petition or sending a message to the elected members of the Hauraki Gulf Forum asking them to vote down the proposal to introduce 50/50 co-governance to the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. According to the Group, nearly 14,000 people signed the petition in just three weeks, and 2,400 individual emails were sent. Great response! Continue reading

Blatant grab for power over the Gulf – again!

Currently, the Hauraki Gulf Forum is considering recommendations put forward for what is explained in a report as ‘updating and strengthening the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act’. Several major changes are being proposed. Continue reading

Have your say on Waiheke Island rāhui

The Ministry of Primary Industries is calling for public submissions on the Ngāti Pāoa imposed rāhui around Waiheke Island. The closing date for submissions is Monday 22 March 2021. The ban relates to the harvesting of four species of kaimoana - i.e. scallops, mussels, crayfish and pāua - the aim being to restore their declining numbers. Continue reading

Who is running this country? Ngāti Pāoa takes the law into its own hands

An iwi on Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf has decided that it is they who should be in control of kaimoana around the island. Without gaining the legal authority to do so, Ngāti Pāoa has declared a ban on the gathering of certain species around the entire coastline of Waiheke. Continue reading

Treaty settlements over the Waitemata and Manukau Harbours, and the Hauraki Gulf

There is a very real danger co-governance arrangements like the Tūpuna Maunga Authority are being considered for the Waitemata and Manukau Harbours, and the Hauraki Gulf. Continue reading

Sea Change Advisory Committee appointed

The Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and the Minister of Fisheries Stuart Nash have selected the members of the ministerial advisory committee established to support the Government’s response to the Sea Change Tai Timu Tai Pari Marine Spatial Plan. The nine-person committee includes members with expertise in commercial and Māori fishing - including four mana whenua, fisheries management, environment, law and marine science. It will be co-chaired by Paul Majurey and Catherine Harland under a co-governance model. Continue reading

The battle for the control of the Hauraki Gulf

You may have read the article ‘Saving the Gulf: tradition holds key’ published in the NZ Herald on June 24 (copy below), which promotes the idea of ahu moana - 50:50 co-management arrangements between mana whenua and local communities covering the entire coastline of the Hauraki Gulf. Regrettably, the ahu moana proposals are not the only avenue being pursued for control of the Gulf. Communications consultant Fiona McKenzie, in her article ‘Who’s Protecting the Public Interest?’ warns us of that democratic governance of the Hauraki Gulf is being threatened on three fronts. Continue reading

Update on Sea Change - the Hauraki Gulf marine spatial plan

In last month’s DA Update, we reported that the Ministries of Conservation and Fisheries are in the process of setting up a Ministerial Advisory Committee, (MAC), the purpose of which is to “help shape the proposals, facilitate engagement with our Treaty Partners and stakeholders, and provide advice and report to the three Ministers – Environment, Conservation & Fisheries.” Continue reading

Hauraki Gulf Forum meeting - change of date and venue. Friday 8th February

Time: 2.00pm Venue: Room 1, Level 26, 135 Albert Street Auckland The Minister for Māori Development Nanaia Mahuta is to address the Forum. Public are welcome to attend. The agenda is available HERE. Continue reading

Sea Change Plan versus democracy in the Hauraki Gulf

Auckland Councillor Mike Lee speaks out on the high stakes power play over ownership and control of the Hauraki Gulf, in an article first published in the Gulf News on 21 June.  “The Hauraki Gulf belongs to all of us and should not be handed over to a non-democratic elite and their consultant advocates”, writes Mike. Read Mike’s excellent article HERE. Continue reading

Report on Hauraki Gulf Forum meeting, 19 February 2018

Before the meeting Janet waded through the agenda and the two main reports (by the Chair and acting CEO), which revealed three key and recurring items: They are 1. To enable Mana Whenua to have a greater role in the Hauraki Gulf Forum 2. To continue work towards the “New Governance Model” Continue reading

Aucklanders' views to be sought on Māori wards

Following preliminary engagement with iwi and urban Māori in 2022, Auckland Council will shortly be asking Aucklanders for their feedback on whether they support - or do not support - the introduction of a dedicated Māori seat/s on Council. Public consultation will run from 21 August until 24 September. Continue reading

No intention to consult with Auckland citizens on Māori wards

Auckland Council is about to engage with mana whenua and mātāawaka about the creation of dedicated Māori seats but have made no plans to consult with the wider Auckland community - even though one of the two models under consideration does not comply with the important democratic principle of proportionality. The adoption of one of the models - the recommendation put forward by the Royal Commission when the supercity was established - would allow for three dedicated seats, thereby increasing Māori representation to a level greater than their proportion in the population. Continue reading

The cats got their tongue - Auckland councillors fail to respond to Atawhai report

In September Democracy Action, in conjunction with the Auckland Ratepayers Alliance, released a briefing paper that we have been working on for some time. The paper, titled ‘Atawhai: Generosity for some’, shows how in just six years Auckland Council spent at least $129 million on targeted Māori spending and iwi consultation. And the bill is increasing. Last year’s spend came to $30 million – more than double the $13 million spent six years ago. Continue reading

Devonport citizens continue the fight against autocratic decision-making

You may remember the protest in Devonport early last year, whereby a group of citizens pushed back on the Tupuna Maunga Authority’s (TMA) autocratic decision-making concerning Takuranga / Mt Victoria.  Continue reading

Update on 'Our Water Future': Auckland's water strategy

The official opportunity to have your say on Auckland’s water strategy has now passed. (However, there is nothing to stop you continuing to express your views to the mayor and councillors). The submissions are now being reviewed.  Continue reading

The Maori world view - 'military' style gates on Mt Albert

Users of Ōwairaka, the maunga in Auckland's Mt Albert, are objecting to the ‘military’ style gates designed to enforce the summit vehicle ban. Comments include words such as "hideous", "an atrocity", and “out of step with the place's natural beauty”. Continue reading

Ports of Auckland continues to defend made-up history

Our working group has been campaigning to have the new memorial plaque on the Ports of Auckland frontage removed and replaced with one that reflects the facts. As outlined in the August edition of our newsletter, the Ports of Auckland say they are happy with the wording on the plaque and do not intend to change it. The plaque erroneously states "Te Kawau gifted 3000 acres to establish the City of Auckland." It replaces a plaque which referred to a purchase rather than a gift. Continue reading

Auckland Plan 2050 Adopted – With The Anti-Democratic Provisions

The Auckland Plan 2050, the long-term strategy for Auckland’s growth and development, and which provides a framework to inform decisions, has been adopted by Auckland Council. Continue reading

The Ports Of Auckland Assist Ngati Whatua In Rewriting History

Further indication of how far Auckland Council is prepared to go to promote Maori interests is illustrated by the new memorial plaque on the Ports of Auckland frontage.  Despite documentary evidence to the contrary, Ports of Auckland has backed Ngati Whatua’s attempt to re write history - the truth be damned! Continue reading

The Office of the Attorney General has released its review of the Sea Change process.

As to the implementation aspect of the Plan, the review says that the agencies involved in the project each developed their own processes for considering how to implement the plan. For instance, Auckland Council and Waikato Regional Council have taken different approaches. Please click HERE to download this file. Continue reading

Advancing the co governance agenda

Auckland Council recently released a discussion document on developing ‘a water strategy to ensure a secure, sustainable, and healthy future for water in Auckland’ - Our Water Future: Auckland's water discussion. Continue reading

Auckland Council’s ‘Our Water Future’ - Remember to have your say

Auckland Council recently released a discussion document on developing ‘a water strategy to ensure a secure, sustainable, and healthy future for water in Auckland’. We covered this issue in the March update, but to briefly recap, as to the advancement of a co-governance agenda, concerns centre on the following statements: Continue reading

Draft Auckland Plan Subverts Democracy

In last month’s newsletter, we went into some detail about how the Draft Auckland Plan 2050 is promoting the subversion of our democracy by bestowing extra co-governance rights on a group of citizens based on race, and requiring the recognition of ‘mana whenua’ as rangatira (chief) in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland). Continue reading

Maunga Authority Snubbing Local Community

For an example of what we can expect from a co-governance entity we need look no further than the Tūpuna Maunga o Tāmaki Makaurau Authority here in Auckland. The Authority is presently imposing its car ban on Mt Victoria-Takarunga, with a minimum of consultation and all but ignoring the normal political channels for approving such a major change, according to Devonport based journalist Geoff Chapple, in an opinion piece published in the NZ Herald on 20th February: Continue reading

Update on the Sea Change Marine Spatial Plan

Further announcements from the Government are expected very soon about the makeup of the Sea Change Ministerial Advisory Committee. Continue reading

Update on Sea Change – the Hauraki Gulf marine spatial plan

The Ministries of Conservation and Fisheries are in the process of setting up a Ministerial Advisory Committee, (MAC), the purpose of which is to “help shape the proposals, facilitate engagement with our Treaty Partners and stakeholders, and provide advice and report to the three Ministers – Environment, Conservation & Fisheries.” Continue reading