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David Round

The Auckland Unitary Plan

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Town planning. Is it a case of enlightened people and communities rationally and thoughtfully preparing for a better tomorrow? Or is it the tool of bureaucrats and professional planners poking their noses into other people’s business ~ unjustifiably interfering with their hard-earned property, and imposing their own particular political, social and economic ‘visions’ on citizens perfectly capable of making their minds up for themselves?

The argument is an old one, and the jury is still out. But recent evidence suggests that whatever may have been the case in the past, planning is now very firmly in the hands of a politically correct dictatorship. The Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan ~ the PAUP ~ would hand over major powers, currently exercised ~ officially, anyway, for the public benefit ~ by the members, employees and representatives of elected local bodies, to the leaders of one racially-defined minority of the population.

This handing over would not be just for the period of this particular plan, but forever ~ for the plan speaks of ‘equal partnerships’ and ‘co-management’ with ‘mana whenua’, based, we must assume, on the entirely mythical ‘Treaty partnership’. It is an eternal resignation of democratic participation.

The Treaty of Waitangi’s alleged ‘partnership’ is really our own home-grown version of Goebbels’ ‘Big Lie’. We hear of it daily; and it does not exist. The Treaty recognised the sovereignty of Queen Victoria and granted to Maori ‘the rights and privileges of British subjects’ ~ including, of course, the continued possession and enjoyment of their property. That was a great deal. Millions of people all over the world would still give very much for a British passport. For a native people in the great age of colonialism to be given legal equality with British settlers was splendid indeed. Australian aboriginals become Australian citizens only in 1949, and even then were still subject to exceptional rules.

Equality, more than anything else, has always been our country’s ruling principle. But there was no more to the Treaty than that. No equality of Maori and the Crown in governing our country was envisaged. Partnership is an obvious absurdity. The Queen’s subjects cannot be her partners. If Maori had equality and co-governance with the Crown, then all non-Maori, having no ‘Treaty relationship’ with the Crown, would be second-class citizens in their own country. Some Maori radicals clearly desire such an arrangement. But that is nasty racial politics, not the Treaty

But racial politics is what the PAUP intends to deliver. The Plan declares the importance of building ‘stable and equal partnerships which enable Mana Whenua to actively and meaningfully participate in the management of natural resources’. At present, right now, all citizens have rights to participate in the management of natural resources. We may well think that we should have more rights ~ but the amount of rights we have should certainly not depend on the skin colour of one of our ancestors.

(Those with ‘mana whenua’, by the way, are those with some trace of Maori descent, and therefore the ‘people of the land’ ~ the rest of us being merely, in a very loaded expression, ‘people of the Treaty’ ~ newcomers allowed in only on condition that we do whatever Maori activists tell us ‘Treaty principles’ require.)

The PAUP wants to transfer powers, or establish joint management agreements, ‘relating to the development and management of ancestral lands, water, air, coastal sites, wahi tapu and other taonga’. ‘Ancestral lands’ are not just lands Maori own now, but any lands with which they have an ancestral connexion ~ which is just about everywhere. Management of Auckland’s land, air, water and the rest, then, is liable to be transferred, in part or at times even wholly, to one group of citizens, not answerable in any way to the general public or with any obligations to the public welfare.

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 PAUP 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. Where are the Citizens for Racial Equality when you need them?

The comparative silence of ordinary Aucklanders is not, sadly, very surprising, given New Zealand’s unrelenting diet of Treaty indoctrination and the mountains of waffle which seem inevitably to accompany all planning. But the silence of the planning profession is harder to understand. Other plans may have had little time for democracy, but they attempted, anyway, to justify their existence by claiming to be rationally working towards a better future. There is no such pretence here. This is a naked political programme, based on racial distinction and mumbo-jumbo, which will discredit planning forever. If this plan becomes law, it will only engender enduring public hatred of all planning and all planners.

If planners do not realise this, then their supposed farsightedness is clearly nonexistent.