Hard on the heels of his political triumph with the supermarkets, Labour Maori Affairs spokesman Shane Jones will have chalked up more political points with his criticisms of a new rule that will affect Auckland property owners.
The city’s leaders – fasten your seat-belts, folks – are requiring property owners to seek iwi approval to work on sites of cultural and heritage value to Maori.
As if living in Auckland isn’t penalty enough for any individual of sound mind, this is a lulu of an idea.
Jones actually calls it dangerous as well (obviously) as an extra compliance cost.
His views are reported today in the NZ Herald:
Mr Jones is opposed to the rule in Auckland Council’s draft Unitary Plan requiring applicants carrying out work on 3,600 sites of “value to mana whenua” to obtain a “cultural impact assessment” from one or more of 19 iwi groups.
“As someone who was involved in the core group which wrote the Resource Management Act in 1988-1989, never in our wildest dreams did we imagine it would lead to 19 new consent authorities over the Tamaki Makaurau area.
“The proponents need to balance heritage against the cost pressure of developing housing and land so that the final product is affordable,” Mr Jones said.
Jones happens to be Labour’s building and construction spokesman as well as one of the party’s most influential Maori MPs.
And Alf suspects he is on to something when he warns of the potential for lots of cultural worms to come wriggling to surface.
“If it is mishandled, it runs the risk of leaving the community with a jaundiced view of Maori heritage,” he said.
Of course anyone with not too much vision should have been able to see this coming.
Bit by bit our indigenous people have taken advantage of the special status we have accorded them to claim more and more rights not only to be consulted but also to determine what we do and when we can do it.
A Maori mate of your hard-working member warns that before long the Grumbles might have to consult iwi before they go to the dunny, because what happens in the dunny will be flushed away and one way or another will be somehow absorbed back into the environment, and the environment is very precious to our indigenous people for spiritual reasons and for its maui and what-have-you.
They haven’t got that far yet in Auckland but it seems they are working on it.
The Herald report goes on to say:
Council officers in conjunction with the in-house Te Waka Angamua Maori division and Independent Maori Statutory Board are already developing a standard procedure with triggers to identify where a cultural impact assessment is required. They will report to the Unitary Plan committee once they have completed a streamlined process.
Betcha they won’t take long to decide everything within their bailiwick should require a cultural impact assessment.
But look on the bright side.
It’s a nice little work generator, sure to keep the cultural police busy, and a nice little earner for the council.
We can see the potential for this from the following remarks:
Aprilanne Bonar, who is seeking consent to build a new garage and swimming pool at her heritage listed house in Titirangi, said she had had a positive and practical response from two iwi – Ngati Whatua and Te Kawerau Iwi Tribal Authority – for a cultural impact assessment.
The work cost $500, which included an archaeologist visiting the site.
“They (iwi) do have an interest and do have a say but their attitude was let’s get on and do it,” she said.
The new rule – we are being told – is one of several in the draft Unitary Plan that has effect from notification on October 1 last year.
But you can be sure someone other than Jones has raised questions.
And sure enough:
The whole proposed rules structure for the implementation of the Cultural Impact Assessments is half baked, the Employers and Manufacturers Association said in its submission on the Unitary Plan sent to the Auckland Council yesterday.
“The whole discussion on CIAs has to be withdrawn and reworked from first principles,” said EMA chief executive Kim Campbell.
“The proposed process is riddled with potential for perverse outcomes and unintended consequences.
“It’s obvious that it lacks thought and was prepared in haste.
“For instance, the scope laid out for the CIAs is so broad and ill-defined it could mean every resource consent requires one,” Mr Campbell said.
But wouldn’t that be the hope of our indigenous people?
Kim Campbell is just being a spoil sport.