A Christmas gift for iwi: Auckland Council comes up with another co-governance deal

But who owns it and how should it be managed?

Bit by bit, as Alf has observed before, the country is being subjected to so-called co-governance arrangements.

Under these 50:50 deals, Maori representatives (batting for around 15 per cent of the population) sit down at the co-governance table with representatives of public bodies which bat for all of us, including Maori.

As anyone who can do their sums can see, this makes it a thoroughly lop-sided arrangement from the point of view of ardent democrats.

But New Zealanders seem throroughly indifferent to the erosion of their democracy and dilution of their rights. Or maybe they are much too craven to resist, whenever the pressure for a new co-governance deal comes along, which is more and more often.

The Maori who do the demanding for co-governance of this, that and the other will prattle about a treaty partnership.

The rest of us don’t bother to ask what this actually means – or should mean – bearing in mind the way the world has changed since the treaty was signed in 1840.

Development of the latest co-governance deal is bubbling along in Auckland.

The “public” has contributed something like $28 million to the assets that will be co-managed.

The Maori have chipped in….how much?

Oh yes, they say they have owned it all along, even though – as Alf understands it – reclaimed land is involved.

The first he heard of the development was when Auckland Council’s Parks, Sports and Recreation sought environmental permission to restore a section of Onehunga’s foreshore.

The aim was to restore the natural character of the foreshore between Onehunga and Manukau Harbour.

A new park would be established, with a more natural landscape with beaches, open space and recreational opportunities.

A new bridge would make it possible to walk and cycle between the new land and the existing park around Onehunga lagoon, within walking distance of Onehunga’s main street and railway station.

The local community has for years been seeking to re-connect with the sea, and the Maungakiekie-Tamaki Local Board and the New Zealand Transport Agency are providing $28million in funding for this project.

The new park will:

recognise the area’s rich cultural and maritime history

turn a neglected stretch of coast into a public asset

create recreational space for the benefit of generations to come.

But first the Onehunga Foreshore Restoration project had to make a resource consent application, which would be assessed under the Resource Management Act to ensure effects on the environment are well-managed.

The application was publicly notified in early September and 1000 submissions were recieved.

A hearing before independent commissioners to will take place 13 – 16 December, 2011.

So what has happened?

Well, the big majority of the submissions gave the project the thumbs up.

But not all.

A few from iwi bridled at what was intended.

And guess what?

The Auckland Council’s Governing Body has agreed to address concerns raised by iwi over the project.

As Radio NZ reported yesterday –

A resource consent application to build a new coastal park on seven hectares of reclaimed land at Onehunga was publicly notified in September.

It attracted about a 1000 submissions, the vast majority of them supporting the application.

But submissions from six iwi are opposed to the consent being granted and request the Council address ownership issues relating to the land.

Did the Governing Body tell the minoirty of objectors to bugger off?

Nah..

It agreed at its meeting on Thursday that the Council won’t apply under the 2011 Marine and Coastal Area Act for a freehold vested interest in the reclaimed land for seven years after reclamation is completed.

Moreover –

The Council will write to the Ministers of Land and Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, confirming it will support the reclaimed land being subject to a co-governance regime with mana whenua.

It will also continue to consult with iwi.

Will it continue to consult with anybody else?

Probably not.

Everybody else doesn’t matter much in the New Zealand being shaped by treaty principles.

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