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Dr Muriel Newman

Auckland Unitary Authority Submission Appeal


SubmissionsAre you concerned about Auckland’s proposed Unitary Plan?

If so, you have until 5pm on Friday to put in a submission.

Submissions can be made online HERE.

Please help us spread the word.

Submitters will have an opportunity to express their concerns to an Independent Hearings Panel. You do not have to live in Auckland to make a submission – and submissions do not have to be complex…

Read on to find out more about one issue of major concern – the scandalous way the council has shifted control over thousands of property owners to iwi for their own advantage. Let me explain.

Auckland’s draft Unitary Plan had identified 61 sites of significance to Maori. While many people making a submission on the draft plan might have had concerns about the council’s intention to elevate Auckland’s 19 iwi business corporations to the status of consenting authorities – with the power to approve or deny consent applications – with only 61 sites identified on the plan, they might have regarded the impact as being relatively minor and not worthy of a mention.

However, once submissions had closed, a further 3,600 sites were added! Yes – an additional 3,600 sites of significance to Maori were recorded on the plan after the consultation process was over.[2] Aucklanders deserve to know whether this information was purposely withheld in order to minimise submissions against council plans to elevate iwi to consenting authorities.

A total of 3,661 sites identified as being of significance to Maori in the Auckland area, changes the situation entirely. Since the sites are not pin-pointed in a way that will minimise their impact on neighbourhoods, anyone living within a 50 metre radius will be affected: The rules in the Sites and Places of Significance to Mana Whenua overlay requires resource consent for physical modification within 50m of a site or place of significance or a change of use. This means that almost 3,000 hectares in Auckland – more than 7,000 acres – will be directly under the control of iwi who will be able to use their position of privilege over landowners for their own commercial advantage. And this is just a start as the council warns that more sites will be added over time. Is this what Aucklanders want?

This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator is David Round, a Canterbury University law lecturer and Chairman of the Independent Constitutional Review, who is totally opposed to the whole concept of iwi co-governance and has this to say about the situation:

“3,600 ‘sites of value’ or ‘sites of significance to mana whenua’ are already recorded, often on the basis of minimal solid evidence. The records will often be secret, as ‘silent files’. The Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan accepts that ‘many more’ will be recorded ~ or invented? ~ in future, and thereafter, whether the sites are on public or private property, countless inconveniences, expenses and superstitious obligations will be imposed on poor long-suffering ratepayers.

“These proposals are not just for more autonomy for Maori Aucklanders ~ an autonomy few might object to if it were shared by all other Aucklanders. The proposal is that certain well-placed Maori people enjoy eternal, far-reaching, undefined, ever-expanding ~ and undoubtedly lucrative ~ influence over the future of the city and the property of citizens on the basis of racial descent, superstitious belief and unprovable assertion. Maori are, in fact, well on the way to being the new ruling race.”

The council has put together a list of exempted activities that property owners in areas affected by the presence of these sites of significance can engage in, such as gardening. Everything else must be approved by the iwi. If they aren’t approved, the homeowner will be required to apply to the council for a resource consent.

The process described in the Unitary Plan for those living in the affected areas who want to undertake non-exempted activities is onerous and represents a gross imposition on the rights of property owners:

“We recommend that applicants arrange a pre-application meeting with a representative from the Resource Consents team to confirm what information should accompany your application. If it is decided that a Cultural Impact Assessment is required the council will advise which groups you need to contact and provide advice on engaging with Mana Whenua to obtain a cultural impact assessment. All Resource Consent applications must be accompanied by an Assessment of Effects. Schedule 4 of the RMA provides a guide to what should be included in an Assessment of Effects.

“The Cultural Impact Assessment will provide you with guidance on how your proposal could effect Mana Whenua and suggest ways by which to mitigate those effects. Your Assessment of Effects should demonstrate how you have considered the effects on Mana Whenua values and identified measures to mitigate, if relevant. The level of detail required to be included in your Assessment of Effects depend on the scale of what is proposed. Council can provide advice on this at your pre-lodgement meeting.”[3]

Former All Black Marc Ellis has already had experience of dealing with an identified site of significance on his Auckland property. He paid for an archaeological dig to prove that the site was bogus. The process was very expensive and took months. To expect property owners to have to undertake such challenges if they don’t believe the designations are genuine, is totally unreasonable.

The underhand way the council has included these 3,600 new so-called sites of significance to Maori in the Unitary Plan should be challenged. The designations on the sites should be suspended while a comprehensive and independent review is undertaken to determine whether they are of national significance since most are sites that had not been deemed worthy of protection by previous councils.

An Independent Review Authority should be appointed by the government, and the definition of ‘significant’ should be clarified to cover only areas that are nationally unique and worthy of special protection by a council. Full disclosure should be provided to affected property owners, with the information available on limb reports.

Submissions on the Unitary Plan close on Friday 28 February at 5pm and can be made on-line HERE. This phase of the consultation process enables submitters to challenge any aspects of the plan and voice their concerns to an Independent Hearings Panel, led by Judge David Kirkpatrick.

As at January 30, only 973 submissions had been received. We would urge anyone concerned about the plan – including this threat to private property rights from the imposition of cultural restrictions – to put in a submission by 5pm Friday. You don’t have to live in Auckland to make a submission, and submissions do not need to be complicated. Tell your friends and family about it too – this is one of those occasions where numbers really do matter.