< May 2021 newsletter

The cost to ratepayers of implementing the partnership principle

Photo: Penny Smart, Chair of Northland Regional Council

The partnership-with-iwi provisions are creating significant cost pressures for councils. This includes large and on-going costs associated with implementing and maintaining the variety of ways Iwi/Māori are involved in local government and contribute to council decision making.

We know from researching the Māori-targeted expenditure by Auckland Council (and Auckland Council Controlled Organisations) that this can add up to quite a considerable sum - almost $130M over a six year period in Auckland alone. See the Atawhai Report for details.

This month we are looking at the Northland Regional Council.

The Northland Regional Council Long Term Plan 2021-2031 (the Plan) outlines the Council’s priorities over the next ten years. It also summarises why the Council is asking ratepayers to agree to an average annual rate rise of 15% over the next three years.

The Plan includes a set of special provisions for Māori to “contribute to council decision making”.  The question is, what are these special provisions costing the ratepayers of the region?

We have been told by Council staff it will cost “$1.4 million over the 10 year LTP to implement the proposed the various parts of the Māori Partnership engagement.” (sic)

However according to the Plan’s Supporting Information, the costs associated with Māori partnership are more than $4.2 million.

The costs itemised in section 3.2 Māori Partnerships (page 86):

  1. To fund the recently signed Mana Whakahono ā Rohe agreements - to give tangata whenua more opportunities to be involved in Resource Management Act processes - $30,000 a year
  2. Employing a kaiawhina kaupapa Māori (Māori technical advisor) to support council's commitment to partnerships with Māori - $102,000 a year, plus a one-off capital spend of $2,200 
  3. To support the development of Iwi and Hapū Environmental Management Plans (IHEMP) - $10,000 a year starting 2022/23 
  4. To support the process of introducing Māori seats in the 2022 election - $20,000 in 2021/22 and 2022/23
  5. To further develop and support the Council’s cultural capacity, specifically to implement mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) across council activities, plan for systems that improve the way tangata whenua engage with council, and develop a Māori internship to build understanding and capacity across council activities - $127,000 in 2021/22, and $138,000 each year following, plus a one-off capital spend of $2,200 in 2021/22 to support the intern position 
  6. To carry out a "health check" of the Council's legislative compliance with Treaty of Waitangi/Te Tiriti o Waitangi obligations and best practice within the local government sector. This will be the first time the Council has carried out a health check of this type, so it'll cost slightly more in the first year to establish a baseline - $50,000 in 2021/22 and $25,000 each year following
  7. Additional budget to implement the "health check", ensuring budget is available to make any required changes to plans, policy or other operations, as highlighted by the health check - $100,000 a year from 2022/23
  8. Council's Te Taitokerau Māori and Council working party (TTMAC) was established in 2014, with membership comprising 21 hapū/iwi representatives and nine regional councillors. Increase in members' allowances to recognise the increasing time, technical capability and experience required of them. To fund the cost increase of providing this service from the council services rate, capital expenditure from council's retained earnings, and depreciation from the council services rate - $25,000 a year.

A table summarising these costs over the next 10 years is below.

3.2 Māori Participation Ref 2021/22 2022/23 2023/24 2024/25 2025/26 2026/27 2027/28 2028/29 2029/30 2030/31
Manawhakahono ā rohe 1 $30,000 $30,000 $30,000 $30,000 $30,000 $30,000 $30,000 $30,000 $30,000 $30,000
Māori technical advisor 2 $104,200 $102,000 $102,000 $102,000 $102,000 $102,000 $102,000 $102,000 $102,000 $102,000
Iwi and Hapū Environmental Management Plans (IHEMP) 3   $10,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000
Introduction of Māori seats 4 $20,000 $20,000                
Implement mātauranga Māori across council activities 5 $129,200 $138,000 $138,000 $138,000 $138,000 $138,000 $138,000 $138,000 $138,000 $138,000
Annual "health check" of council's legislative compliance 6 $50,000 $25,000 $25,000 $25,000 $25,000 $25,000 $25,000 $25,000 $25,000 $25,000
Implement outcomes from annual "health check" 7   $100,000 $100,000 $100,000 $100,000 $100,000 $100,000 $100,000 $100,000 $100,000
Te Taitokerau Māori and Council working party (TTMAC) 8 $25,000 $25,000 $25,000 $25,000 $25,000 $25,000 $25,000 $25,000 $25,000 $25,000
Total per year $358,400 $450,000 $430,000 $430,000 $430,000 $430,000 $430,000 $430,000 $430,000 $430,000
Total over 10 years $4,248,400

There appears to be very little formal evaluation of this expenditure. Only two areas will be measured for performance i.e. whether the Council has completed the annual “Health Check”; and the participation of councillors and the executive leadership team in the annual mātauranga Māori “core cultural competency training”.

In addition to the itemised list above, there are other Māori-specific programmes referred to in the Plan. They include the following:

  • Option to fund iwi-based kaitiaki rangers to work on biodiversity in their own rohe. “They could patrol coastal areas and educate visitors and locals, undertake monitoring, and encourage respect for the environment and cultural heritage”. The total cost is $1.6 million over 3 years
  • The documents also refer to “more actively involving tangata whenua in freshwater management through the implementation of Implement Te Mana o te Wai” and the “development of risk management plans for hapū and marae communities”. However, these costs do not appear to be listed anywhere in the Plan
  • The Kaipara Moana Remediation Programme, aimed at significantly reducing sediment going into the Kaipara Harbour, is a partnership arrangement set up under a Memorandum of Understanding between the Crown, Kaipara Uri*, the Northland Regional Council and Auckland Council. According to the Plan’s Supporting Information, it has a total budget of $300 million over the next 10 years**, including a recent Crown contribution of $100 million over the next 6 years. According to Hon David Parker’s original press release, the remaining contribution [$200 million] is to come from [Northland Regional and Auckland] councils and landowners

*Kaipara Uri is made of of representatives of Ngā Maunga Whakahī o Kaipara, Te Roroa, Te Rūranga o Ngāti Whātua, and Te Uri o Hau.
**up from the $200 million announced in 2020.

Northland Inc. is the region’s economic development agency and regional tourism organisation. According to the Plan’s Supporting Information, they work with strategic partners in the Māori Economic Development space to drive delivery on high impact Māori economic development projects, “with a specific focus on improving capacity and capability of those who we partner with for delivery.” (p. 209)

According to the document, Northland Inc. are planning:

  • He Korowai Manawanui – a two-year programme aimed at organisational culture to become a better partner for Māori with a genuine understanding of Tikanga and Te Ao Māori. These costs do not appear to be listed anywhere in the Plan
  • Grants/Investments for Māori businesses - $360,000 over 3 years.

While the expenditure outlined above is easily measurable, we can only guess the additional costs that are considered business as usual, e.g. administrative support to fulfil obligations to Iwi/Māori; Māori Relationship Manager salary; the circulation of consent applications to all iwi groups; the cost of iwi consultation relating to resource consents; the public consultation required when a new plan is developed by iwi co-governance groups (e.g. the recent Te Oneroa-a-Tōhe Ninety Mile Beach Management Plan)

How many of the other 77 local authorities spend similar amounts?

These costs are being foisted on the general ratepayer base at the same time as the Government passes the Local Government (Rating of Whenua Māori) Amendment Act 2021, allowing Councils to wipe rates arrears from some Māori land, and making unused Maori land unrateable. The new legislation will see around $20 million in overdue rates wiped from the books of the Far North District Council alone, as well as substantial amounts to be wiped by the Northland Regional Council, Whangārei District Council and Kaipara District Council.


Northland Regional Council Long Term Plan 2021-2031

Democracy Action Auckland Council Atawhai Report 2020

NZ Herald: Over $20 million in rates arrears on Northland Māori land to be written off

RNZ: Whenua Māori Rating Amendment Bill passes third reading, modernising Māori land rating laws

Go back to the May 2021 newsletter


Local Government Review Call for Submissions

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Local Body Elections 2019

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The Waikato District Council Blueprint Project

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Iwi checkpoints “show the way” for Treaty partnership

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What partnership?

For those who were unable to attend the public meeting held in West Auckland on February 23, at which Dr Don Brash gave a presentation on the Crown-Maori partnership ideology, you can now view it here:    Continue reading

Proposed changes to our electoral system

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Local body elections – backing democratic governance and political equality

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Urgent judicial review of discriminatory Rotorua Council Bill

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Locals campaign to restore democracy at Tauranga City Council

The Government has decided to extend the stay of Tauranga City Council’s commissioners for a further two-and-a-half years. The dissolution of the elected council in February 2021 was always meant to be a temporary emergency measure with full local democracy restored in 2022. However, the Wellington-appointed commissioners asked the Government to delay local elections for at least another year, which the Minister of Local Government, Nanaia Mahuta, obligingly extended until July 2024. Continue reading

Rotorua Lakes Council pushing for Māori co-governance

The Rotorua Lakes Council no longer believes in one person one vote, each of equal value. Instead, it believes that if you are not Māori, your vote should be worth less. The Council is currently pursuing a law change to enable an undemocratic representation model to be implemented. The model it prefers would consist of three Māori ward seats, three general ward seats, and four at-large seats. However, adopting this arrangement would give the 19,791 citizens on the Māori roll 2.6 times the voting power of the 51,618 citizens on the general roll. Continue reading

Time to Vote - Local Body Elections 2019

Voting in local body elections is under way, with the poll closing noon 12 October. With the push for co-governance and partnership arrangements gathering speed, there’s a lot riding on our choices this election. The next three years will make a huge difference to our future. Continue reading

Vote for me! Local body elections 2019

The upcoming election gives us the opportunity to voice our opinions, to hold elected representatives to account, and to vote for what we believe in. So please take all opportunities to question those standing for office. You could also identify those candidates you can support and offer your help as they campaign. We at Democracy Action believe our representatives should be voted on merit, not race. As Gisborne Herald columnist, farmer, community worker, and heritage consultant Mr Clive Bibby writes in his article 'Diversity best achieved naturally'  “The majority of people do not judge by colour, religion, age, sex or disability. They judge you by what you believe in, what you hope to do, what you bring to the table, whether you will work hard for them and represent their voices at the council or health board table.”     Continue reading