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Michael Coote

Favouritism flaw spells danger

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Auckland City’s draft Unitary Plan (UP) juggernaut has been forced to swerve this month.

Maximum permitted height limitations proposed for buildings in Panmure, Onehunga and Pakuranga were lowered after concerted agitation by local residents.

Much more needs to be done yet, not least because the UP has widespread ramifications for New Zealand’s economic performance.

Auckland is “too big to fail” in representing over a third of New Zealand’s population and GDP.

If the final UP is flawed in any significant way, then that could hamper not only Auckland’s prosperity, but also New Zealand’s.

The UP could, for example, adversely impact on New Zealand’s international reputation as being a free, competitive, non-corrupt economy that protects investors, and a country that is easy for doing business and starting one up, trading and investing, and dealing with construction permits.

There is in fact a significant flaw in the draft UP that concerns the racist, neo-apartheid policies espoused within it to grant Maori tribes identified as “mana whenua” exclusive and unaccountable powers and controls over land and other natural resources throughout Auckland.

These policies threaten business in Auckland and the international reputation of New Zealand.

NBR has previously warned of this fatal flaw in the draft UP, but the experience of Panmure, Onehunga and Pakuranga residents shows that effective lobbying, particularly by Auckland’s business community and its representative organisations, could roll back the neo-apartheidist agenda.

The draft UP defines mana whenua Maoris as, “The people of the land who have mana or customary authority – their historical, cultural and genealogical heritage are attached to the land and sea,” and recognises no fewer than 19 iwi authorities as mana whenua.

In essence, the Maori policy of the draft UP proposes that mana whenua tribes be officially empowered and facilitated by Auckland Council in their exercise of sweeping, racially-allocated rights of veto, danegelding and rent-seeking via the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) that will have far reaching implications right across Auckland.

Concerning scheduling “sites of significance” to mana whenua, the draft UP states, “There are thousands of areas, features and sites within Auckland where there is a high likelihood of Maori cultural heritage being discovered or affected.”

Moreover, “mana whenua are aware of many other areas, features and sites that may be equally or more significant, and acknowledge there may be shared interests over scheduled locations.”

“It is intended to identify further areas, features and sites nominated by mana whenua through future plan changes including those identified through other legislation.”

There is a purely political rationale behind this racial supremacist policy that goes way beyond any strict legal obligation on the part of Auckland Council as a local authority, as is betrayed in a couple of key passages (the definitions provided for Maori words in the draft UP are cited in square brackets).

“As treaty claims are settled, Auckland will move into a new phase where mana whenua aspirations are clearly articulated and empowered.”

“This creates an opportunity to develop a new approach to resource management where mana whenua are directly involved in the resource management process, and where tikanga [customary lore and practice, Maori protocols] and matauranga Maori [Maori knowledge] shape resource management decisions…”

And further, “The UP has an important role in helping decision-makers to expand their perspective to include tikanga that are significant to mana whenua and have a bearing on resource management.”

“The UP will provide clear direction that tikanga must be properly considered in relation to any activity within the rohe [region, district or area].”

The draft UP leaves it entirely up to mana whenua tribes to decide or invent what the mysteries of tikanga and matauranga are and apply them as they see fit in pursuit of their own unaccountable self interest.

This self interest is formally advocated in the draft UP’s clause 2.5: “Mana whenua can exercise tino rangatiratanga (Maori sovereignty or self-determination – oddly not defined in the draft UP) and mana motuhake [an individual’s authority to determine his/her own destiny, self-determination] through participation in resource management processes and decisions.”

Under the draft UP’s indulgent aegis, instruments that mana whenua Maori will exercise to practise legalised corruption under the RMA are consultation processes and iwi management plans [documents prepared by iwi that Councils must consider when developing or amending RMA plans].

Iwi management plans are statutorily recognised under the RMA and provide the Trojan horse for mana whenua machinations.

The draft UP asserts that it will, “Require subdivision, use and development … to incorporate the outcomes articulated by mana whenua through consultation and within iwi planning documents.”

New Zealand doesn’t need racially-licensed economic exploitation entrenched in Auckland.

It’s not too late for business interests to pressure Auckland Council into eliminating the racist bias and economic decline premised in the draft UP’s highly politicised, anti-democratic interpretation of the RMA.

First published in the NBR