Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The Taniwha Tax: coming to a home near you

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While some folk are desperate for affordable housing, council planners continue to demonstrate that’s the last thing on their agenda.  The latest loopiness being bedded in around Auckland Town is a Cultural Impact Assessment – appropriately called a CIA, because the process is akin to being reamed by officious goons.

If you thought trying to get a resource consent out of council is hard, and it is, just wait until you discover your site has been declared as needing a CIA—something that could see you needing to negotiate with up to nineteen different Maori tribes in order to gain consent to erect a carport, for reasons that are entirely “spiritual” in nature.

The provisions may affect the value of perhaps 18,000 properties [says the Taxpayers Union], and many more in time. It is a variable and unpredictable capital tax, collected when someone wants to change their property use. Such uncertainty diminishes prospects for economic growth [not to mention property rights] as it does not allow people to plan with confidence.

No wonder groups opposed are calling it a Taniwha Tax, on which the Taxpayers Union has released a briefing paper entitled The Taniwha Tax: Briefing paper on Auckland Council’s new Mana Whenua rules.

Here is the PR released with the paper:

The Taxpayers’ Union, with support from the Auckland Property Investors’ Association, Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance and Democracy Action today launched a briefing paper on Auckland Council’s new Mana Whenua Cultural Impact Assessment provisions. The paper, entitled The Taniwha Tax: Briefing paper on Auckland Council’s new Mana Whenua rules.
   
We believe that every Auckland homeowner or potential homeowner needs to know how the new provisions affect them.
    Most affected property owners will not become aware of the provisions until they suddenly find there is a site on or near their land, or they are told they may need to get a Cultural Impact Assessment (CIA) when applying for resource consent. Worse, the Council isn’t even sure that some of the 3,600 sites deemed ‘of value’ even exist. It didn’t bother to check.
    The Briefing Paper quotes extensive criticisms of the provisions made on behalf of some of New Zealand’s largest corporates, including Vodafone, Spark, Chorus, Transpower, Vector, Watercare.
    If you thought that navigating RMA red tape was hard, these provisions could require you to negotiate with up to nineteen Mana Whenua groups in order to gain development consent, the rules mean that resource consents may be subject to expensive modifications, even if the reasons are entirely spiritual in nature.
    The Council has previously tried to dampen public concerns, claiming that not many Cultural Impact Assessments have been required so far. They ignore the cost and delay of applicants having to go to iwi groups to ask whether a CIA is required.

This reaming by a CIA—along with the approval of appropriate iwi (plural) –is required every time you propose a project anywhere near a site that appears in Auckland’s Proposed Unitary Plan as a purple blob.  There are a lot of blobs (and that only describes the planners):

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As you can see, the place is swarming with them.  Most of these sites are unverified, and even the 7 or so iwi to whom you will have to write pleading for your project to proceed will often know no more about a site than you did before you started your project.

And if you think to yourself: “Huh, it’s only Auckland,” then guess what: if the Taniwha Tax makes it here, it’ll make it everywhere.

1 comment:

  1. It already has made it everywhere - so far only at a land developer level, so not visible to individual households - but there nonetheless. In fact to call it a "tax" is to understate its impact. If it was a simple requirement to write out a cheque for $X to such and such iwi it would be one thing, but it's the uncertainty wrought by having to deal with the various iwi and their fractious relationships that is more damaging.

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