< June 2020 newsletter

Preferential treatment for iwi under proposed Fast Track Consenting Bill

We are asking for your help to fight against legislation currently being drafted by the Government which clearly discriminates in favour of iwi, while the rest of us would effectively be marginalized. The issue is urgent - the Government plans to push this legislation through by late June - under urgency and with minimal public input under the pretext of COVID-19.

The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) has been working towards a Bill to fast-track the consenting process during the COVID-19 Recovery. A link to the cabinet paper relating to the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Bill is HERE. Officials from MfE have worked alongside the Office for Māori Crown Relations – Te Arawhiti on the development of this legislation.

In a recent media release, the Chair of Democracy Action Lee Short said:

“Currently Jacinda Ardern's Government is proposing to extend the preferential treatment of iwi under the proposed COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Bill. Resource consent decisions on specified projects (including housing, transport, and environmental projects) will be made by a three-person panel and one of those people must be "a person nominated by relevant iwi authorities".

“While many of us have been calling for Resource Management Act reform for years, it is doubtful most envisaged iwi being represented at the top table to look after iwi interests. Mandating that unaccountable iwi representatives are involved as one of three consenting authorities in significant consent decisions is clearly a case of institutionalized racism.” 

Further proof of the racial bias in the legislation is laid bare in section 66 of the Cabinet Paper. The right to appeal is limited to people who have an interest in "the decision that is greater than the interest that the general public has, which would generally include the relevant iwi authority and adjacent landowners." That is right – iwi will have a greater interest than members of the general public in every decision (and can therefore appeal) under this legislation change.

We also face the situation outlined by National Iwi Chairs Forum spokesman Rahui Papa who stated that iwi have shovel-ready projects that the Government should prioritise. This would create the situation where iwi were both the developer and the consent decision maker, which is a clear conflict of interest. This bill would embed that conflict of interest into law.

Consider the terrible precedent which might be set by this law when the Minister in charge, Hon David Parker, said "we think it's justified to put aside those normal rights of participation and have a narrower group of people make these decisions centrally."

What other “normal rights of participation” – what we call democracy – will be put aside by this Government?

Join the fight against this discriminatory legislation. Please communicate your thoughts to your MP, and the NZ First, National and Act MPs, as well and the following:

The Prime Minister, RT Hon Jacinda Ardern. Email: [email protected]

Minister for the Environment, Hon David Parker. Email: [email protected]

All email addresses of all MPs are available on the Government website HERE.

Media coverage

Stuff: Coronavirus: Cabinet approves new legislation to fast-track resource consents and boost economy as it emerges from lockdown

Go back to the June 2020 newsletter


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

Action Plan for Healthy Waterways

Thank you to everyone who took the opportunity to make a submission on the Government’s 'Action for Healthy Waterways' discussion document. Around seventeen and a half thousand submissions were received, reflecting much interest in the proposals. From a democracy point of view, it is of great concern that several proposals point to the undermining of the democratic control of water, and include the intention to require local authorities to compulsorily include a vague and undefined set of values and interests in the management of the water bodies and freshwater ecosystems in their region. Continue reading

Plans to widen the scope of CVAs

It has been quite some time since we covered the issue of Cultural Values Assessments (CVA). This does not mean they are no longer an issue. To the contrary – the taniwha has been quietly working in the background, sharpening its teeth – as evidenced by reports on a project undertaken to research the effectiveness of the CVA process for influencing resource management and consenting in Auckland, and recommending ways to increase iwi/hapu involvement in the resource consent process. Continue reading

Resource Management Act to be reviewed – again!

Environment Minister David Parker has launched an "overhaul" of the Resource Management Act (RMA), seeking to cut complexity and costs and better protect the environment.  Continue reading

Official complaint about discriminatory health policy by DHB

Please see below a letter to Meng Foon, Race Relations Commissioner, about Capital and Coast and the Hutt Valley District Health Boards' decisions to move Maori and Pacific patients to the front of their elective surgery waiting list. Since the letter was sent reports have emerged that eight other DHBs have introduced or are looking to introduce this clearly discriminatory policy. Three more refused to rule it out. This is a deeply concerning trend and needs to be stopped. Continue reading