Govt’s approach to amending RMA breaches Treaty – Ngāi Tahu

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu wants to co-design reforms to the Resource Management Act (RMA), and says the government’s current approach to amending the law is a breach of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Co-chair of Ngāi Tahu’s Freshwater governance group, Dr Te Maire Tau, told the Environment Select Committee on Monday it was pre-emptive of the government to introduce the Resource Management Amendment Bill without engaging with Ngāi Tahu first.

The Environment Select Committee is hearing submissions this week from a number of groups who want to see changes to the Resource Management Act.

The committe’s objectives of the Resource Amendment Bill are to reduce complexity, increase certainty, restore public participation opportunities, and improve Resource Management Act 1991 processes.

The Ngāi Tahu takiwā or tribal area comprises 62 percent of the country’s surface water resources and 81 percent of total groundwater volume.

He said under Ngāi Tahu’s Treaty settlement the Crown is obliged to co-operate with the iwi on any matters concerning the environment.

“Ngāi Tahu is committed to working with the Crown to resolve the current Treaty breaches and design in partnership a takiwā-specific approach that upholds Ngāi Tahu rangatiratanga,” he said.

“For Ngāi Tahu, any planning process under the RMA must provide for dual decision-making powers; representation that reflects the Treaty partnership; and decision-making in accordance with the Treaty and the principles upon which it was founded.

“Ngāi Tahu supports the retention of section 360 D of the RMA and the ability of a minister to over-ride local body decision making, where there is a need to intervene with direct Crown/iwi conversation. It would enable the potential for meaningful action to follow that improves outcomes for iwi at the local level.

“This is on the basis the minister upholds the Crown’s Treaty obligations and respects Ngāi Tahu’s rights, interests and values.”