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):
- 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
- 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
- To support the development of Iwi and Hapū Environmental Management Plans (IHEMP) - $10,000 a year starting 2022/23
- To support the process of introducing Māori seats in the 2022 election - $20,000 in 2021/22 and 2022/23
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.