Poutini Ngāi Tahu have argued that cultural values in the proposed Te Tai o Poutini plan should be explicitly expressed, citing concerns that freedom camping rules will impact traditional Māori camping.
Poutini Environmental general manager Phillipa Lynch presented on behalf of the two West Coast rūnanga, Ngāti Waewae and Makaawhio, at the second round of hearings for the proposed combined district plan on 16 November.
The one-day hearing, convened in Hokitika, considered the planning sections covering light, earthworks, signs and temporary activities.
Lynch said they wanted it to be clear that Poutini Ngāi Tahu cultural values should be clearly represented for the future users of the plan, with clarity around what cultural heritage meant for Ngāi Tahu.
Poutini Ngāi Tahu were requesting cultural heritage be better expressed and more explicit.
"Historic heritage is only one part of Poutini Ngāi Tahu values. Ngāi Tahu are not just part of history, they're living and breathing today."
This particularly applied to taonga and kai in the environment - already recognised by enabling legislation around the Ngāi Tahu Treaty claim.
"For me it's quite a distinct cultural context."
Lynch referenced the Ngāi Tahu Settlement Act and other legislated rules above the TTPP that supported Poutini Ngāi Tahu's position.
One issue that had come up was the TTPP's provisions for 'freedom camping' which potentially inadvertently captured traditional Poutini Māori camping practices.
"Freedom camping is caught up in the discretionary rules. There could be a bit of ambiguity," Lynch said.
Commissioner Paul Rogers asked if that meant further clarity was needed to ensure that the freedom camping provisions did not inadvertently capture traditional Ngāi Tahu camping sites.
Lynch affirmed that was the case.
Rogers acknowledged this was the kind of dilemma that might happen when "words on the page" in the plan could be misapprehended or interpreted for future planning.
"When we are talking about something as holistic as Ngāi Tahu values, you can see it presents a problem when it gets to words on a page."
There was also the practical issue that someone reading a provision in the plan then had to go to another section "to understand what those values are".
"It starts to become difficult in terms of applying these things."
Lynch agreed, noting the compulsory electronic form of the TTPP meant users had to click to a different heading to read related but relevant information on various provisions.
Disclosure: Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio chairman Paul Madgwick is the editor of the Greymouth Star. He took no part in the commissioning, writing or editing of this LDR story.
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