Taranaki iwi seek resources from council to support relationship

7:50 pm on 10 May 2021

Iwi want more money to cope with a flood of resource consents in Taranaki.

The CEO of Taranaki's largest corportate farmer and  former chief Treaty negotiator, Dion Tuuta

Te Kotahihanga o Te Ātiawa Pou Whakahaere Dion Tuuta. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Taranaki Regional Council considers about 400 consent applications a year and many of them require input from Māori about cultural impacts, especially on waterways.

Te Ātiawa told a hearing for the council's Long Term Plan that iwi and hapū need money to help decide and monitor consents.

Te Kotahihanga o Te Ātiawa Pou Whakahaere Dion Tuuta said money for Māori could be levied as part of council consent application and monitoring fees.

"We have an overwhelming avalanche of groups wanting to consult with us... one of our responses will be to start charging for our services."

Ngāruahine iwi also called on the council to get money for iwi and hapū by levying a specific charge on consent applications.

"Iwi struggle to keep up with these demands, let alone involve hapū in the kōrero needed to provide a meaningful response from a mana whenua perspective."

Taranaki Regional Council last month voted to establish a Māori ward for elections and Te Ātiawa welcomed that as necessary progress.

Tuuta said the council, while setting its 10-year plan, had not come to Māori to improve the way it worked.

"No disrespect to the relationship of existing iwi and hapū with some specific Taranaki Regional Council officers, however at a strategic and at a governance level this relationship is lacking."

"The draft LTP contains a tangata whenua section, however somewhat ironically there has been no engagement of iwi and hapū to inform the draft LTP."

Tuuta said Te Ātiawa would prefer the council to see the iwi and its hapū and marae as partners to achieve better outcomes, rather than just a group it had to consult.

"It is our aspiration that the TRC knows us better and cares about the things that we care about, not because it is statutorily required to do so, but because it sees the value in who we are and sees how our perspective can add value to everyone touched by your sphere of authority."

Tuuta said the iwi would set its own intergenerational plan within a year and could then offer a more strategic position when working with councils.

"The council's gonna be here [in some form] and we will be here in some form too, so an effective working relationship between these two is going to be vital for the region."

Ngāruahine also said they would continue to push for better kaitiakitanga not just through funding, but through council strategy and policies.

In a written response to both iwi submissions, council officers said an agreement was being built between Taranaki's four councils and most iwi authorities to establish tangata whenua input into consents.

"An outcome of this process will be an agreement that clearly establishes the role of tangata whenua in the consent process and how their actual and reasonable costs can be met. The agreement will also address other RMA matters such as compliance and state of the environment monitoring, and enforcement."

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