Māori purpose zones on ancestral whenua to be created

4:33 pm on 9 April 2021

The new combined district plan for the West Coast - now under construction - will recognise the land rights and rangatiratanga of Poutini Ngāi Tahu by creating Māori purpose zones on ancestral whenua.

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The Open Bay Islands off the coast of Haast are among areas that may be recognised as coming under the land rights and rangatiratanga of Poutini Ngāi Tahu. Photo: Te Ara

Councils and iwi working on Te Tai o Poutini Plan last week scrutinised the draft rules for the zones after approving the overall objective in February.

The Māori purposes zone is defined as an area used mainly to meet Māori cultural and development needs, including residential and commercial activities. The zoning enables Māori to assert tino rangatiratanga (chiefly authority) over the land within it, and where an iwi management plan is in place it takes precedence over any default rules.

The two West Coast runanga, Ngāti Waewae and Makaawhio, had identified the lands they wanted included in the zone, the committee meeting heard.

Some of the areas identified so far include:

  • Victoria Park racecourse at Greymouth
  • land associated with Arahura Marae, pa and Arahura River
  • Te Tauraka a Waka a Māui Marae and associated land at Mahitahi
  • land at Makaawhio/ Jacobs River
  • the Open Bay Islands off Haast
  • LI] and small parcels of land at Jackson Bay and Ōkārito

More Ngāi Tahu land could yet be included, senior planner Lois Easton said.

The rules were similar to those for general rural land, but in a Māori purpose zone more activities would be permitted, rather than discretionary. That included buildings used for the purposes of sport, culture, health, welfare and worship.

Where the hapū had a formalised management plan, many activities would not need resource consent, she said.

Single or multiple dwellings, papakainga housing, marae, health clinics and other uses that support the Poutini Ngāi Tahu community would all be permitted activities.

Some limitations would kick in for settlements, such as the one planned near Arahura Marae: tunnelhouse horticulture would be permitted but other indoor primary industries such as mushroom or chicken farming would not.

Easton said iwi management plans were provided for in the Resource Management Act and had to be endorsed by Ngāi Tahu as well as the local rūnanga.

"But essentially the way I've drafted these rules, as long as the plan provides the level of detail needed to ensure all adverse effects are managed, then whatever's in that plan can go ahead.

"So obviously that's a really enabling provision, but the sense I have from the committee is that you have a level of comfort with that, and I know the iwi are working together on the detail of management plans."

Most of the areas proposed as Māori purpose zones were rural so the default rules were based on rural provisions, Easton said.

"But they do include the former Greymouth racecourse, which is Māwhera Incorporation land, and there will be targeted consultation about that site, but I suspect Māwhera would not be unhappy."

Joint iwi management plan

Ngāti Waewae chair Francois Tumahai.

Francois Tumahai Photo: LDR

Iwi representative Paul Madgwick asked what would happen if Māwhera wanted more of its land classified as Māori purpose zone.

"From a statutory perspective it is the Ngāti Mahaki (Makaawhio) and Ngāti Waewae hapū kaiwhakahaere (chairmen) who are part of the decision-making body," Easton said.

"Although Māwhera is iwi or hapū -owned, they are just another landowner ... decisions (on the zone) rest with the committee."

Iwi representative Francois Tumahai said he was pleased to hear that.

"Māwhera is just that - another landholder. While we are going to look after their interests, at the end of day we are the decision makers and we will make that call."

He said the two Poutini Ngāi Tahu rūnanga were collaborating on a joint iwi management plan for the entire region and were on track to lodge it with the West Coast Regional Council by October.

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