Top Gear beach plans were in danger of being stalled by cumbersome consultation demands

People have had a gutsful of the length of time taken and costs incurred trying to get resource consents.

Your government has responded accordingly by proposing changes in the Resource Management Act aimed at improving our resource management system.

So how long will it take before we tumble to the time and costs incurred in meeting obligations to consult iwi before governments national or local can do anything?

Environment Minister Amy Adams (splendid lass) put us in the picture about the RMA plans when she launched a discussion document detailing an extensive programme of potential reforms focused on revamping our resource management system.

She was answering questions in Parliament (see here).

Ian McKelvie: What are the key objectives of the proposed reforms?

Hon AMY ADAMS: The overall objective for the proposed resource management reforms is to ensure the Act is meeting the needs of New Zealand, and to address the unreasonable time and cost of many Resource Management Act processes. Those delays have real impacts on Kiwi households and businesses. They can be a barrier to new jobs. They mean houses are more expensive and that communities do not know what they can expect in their neighbourhoods. We want a system where New Zealanders know what they can and cannot do with their land, businesses have the certainty they need to grow and create jobs, and communities do not find themselves having to fight consent by consent to protect their local values.

Similar time and cost considerations attach to the requirements to consult iwi.

This is illustrated (here) in a report about Northland iwi accepting an apology from the Far North District Council.

The council had allowed filming on 90 Mile Beach without telling some tribes.

This seemed an eminently sensible decision.

It brings the Top Gear to our neck of the woods.

But oops. Maori (or those who weren’t consulted) took umbrage.

The council received some complaints about giving a BBC television programme consent to close a stretch of the beach, Te Oneroa-a-Tohe, while it films a super sonic car speeding on the sand.

It seems the governing body did consult Ngati Kuri, which did not object.

But getting approval from one bunch of Maori is not enough.

Many more consultations were needed.

By the time they had finished consulting, it’s a fair bet the Top Gear team would have given up waiting and gone somewhere else.

Now the council has some sorting out to do, to mollify the Maori who weren’t consulted.

The council has apologised to four other iwi in the area, Ngati Kahu, Te Aupouri, Ngai Takoto and Te Rarawa.

The apology has been accepted and the council has learned a lesson in the complicated art of keeping its special people happy.

Treaty claims manager for Ngai Takoto, Rangitane Marsden commended the council for saying sorry.

Far North District Council said it will be working with iwi in the area and aims to set up clear guidelines for consultation.

Mr Marsden said he applauds the council’s move towards building a better relationship with iwi.

But at the same time, he said iwi have got to learn how to work collectively to deliver one message, which would stop councils thinking officials have to consult only one iwi.

Four of the five iwi in the region signed a Treaty of Waitangi Deed of Settlement last year – which included a provision for a joint tribal-council management body to be set up to oversee 90 Mile Beach.

We are talking about co-governance.

It becomes a costly and cumbersome business.

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