Duncan Garner is being coy about naming names.
He tells a fascinating story nevertheless about the abuse of the Resource Management Act and local council planning rules. The council said this must include “subcontracting a lizard specialist to assess whether a lizard management plan would also be needed”.
A lizard management plan?
How do you manage lizards?
At great expense.
Garner’s story is about “a decent hard-working guy” who is merely trying to build a house bu is being gouged financially as part of the planning and consent process.
I can’t say where this is happening for fear of reprisals to the landowner and the builders overseeing the project.
They are too scared to go public and have asked me to tell the story. I have seen all the council paperwork – it’s astonishing.
This is a tale of a total abuse of the Resource Management Act and local council planning rules.
No wonder there’s a shortage of housing stock.
Garner explains that the house construction was supposed to have started months ago at a site requiring the clearance of some native bush and vegetation.
An arborist was called in and prepared a report.
But the local council then elevated it and demanded a whole new plan including an “ecological assessment of any likely/potential adverse effects caused by the clearance”.
Officials also wanted a restoration plan outlining what “supplementary planting” and “weed management” would take place.
But then came the gratuitous bombshell.
The council said this must include “subcontracting a lizard specialist to assess whether a lizard management plan would also be needed”.
Yep. You read it correctly. The officials needed to know whether lizards or native geckos exist at the property . . . and whether their lives are in danger.
The work for this new plan would be $3000 plus GST. The cost of the lizard survey was extra – and estimated to be about $1600.
That included a site visit, three days of trapping, accommodation costs of $240 and paying mileage for a 200km-plus return trip (totalling about $300).
The 10 traps and torches used to hunt for lizards were provided “free of charge” in the quote.
Ah – but the wildlife are just one thing to come into considerations.
Don’t forget the need to consult indigenous persons because they have been accorded special privileges to decide what we do with our properties.
Under local planning rules and the Resource Management Act the poor bugger who just wants to build a house must consult with local iwi groups.
They must be notified of his plan to cut down some of the native bush.
All six interested iwi groups have to be contacted.
Some of these iwi groups live hundreds of kilometres away from the building site, but have historical connections to the area.
Three of these groups have so far asked for initial site visits.
These don’t come cheap either. One of the iwi is charging $240 an hour, plus travel costs (and excluding GST).
But that’s just for the cheapie initial look.
Apparently this iwi goes on to say that if a proper cultural impact assessment is needed they will provide the details of the costs involved.
Iwi here, iwi there – bloody iwi everywhere, each with different demands.
Another iwi group say they see the trees as “taonga in need of protection from climate change, disease and ongoing development and they generally oppose the removal or felling of native trees”.
They also want an initial site visit to assess whether a wider cultural assessment is needed – but the kaitiaki (guardian) can’t do it till April.
But don’t forget about the lizards.
It seems some bloke turned up for lizard patrol one night with a torch and found nothing.
So far they’ve found one lizard in total – 500 metres away from the building site!
I’m sorry, this is a sick joke. It’s a rort and hard-working people are being ripped off.
Yes, we need planning rules and a consent process. But the RMA has created a cottage industry of outrageous ripoffs in the name of cultural political correctness.
This particular consent has been held up for months because iwi groups are gaming the system.
Councils are clearly misinterpreting the law and too many groups have too much power over private property.
This is an abuse of the system. It may be legal but it’s not right.
Garner reckons Government ministers need to read his article and do something about it.
Damned right they should.
But you can betcha they will put political correctness first and do nothing to stop The Great Iwi Con Job.
Mind you, if one lizard has been found, we can’t rule out there might be others.
But the big thing about a lizard is that non-indigenous persons can see it.
The same can’t be said of a taniwha, which can be a great little show-stopper without ever being sighted.
It’s as if a road project could be halted lest it upset the long-extinct moa.
Alf recalls with profound bemusement the way our craven officials negotiated a deal with Ngati Naho to continue developing one of the busiest stretches of roads in New Zealand.
Work on the $75 million road project came to a halt when local Maori raised concerns that continued realignment on the road would desecrate the homes of three mythical guardians.
Concessions have been put in place to ensure that the taniwha are respected.
Spokesman Rima Herbert says work can continue from a point of the road that does not impact on the taniwha site.
When Transit New Zealand was told of the local iwi’s concerns did it demand to be shown the taniwha?
Nope. The weasels immediately ordered workers off the area.
The lesson for iwi is that if they want to stop a development, they can do something that non-Maori objectors can’t do.
They can conjure up a mythical creature and wail about the profound cultural mischief that will be done if the taniwha is in any way upset by descendants of the non-indigenous buggers who seriously lacked foresight when they negotiated and signed a treaty all those years ago.