Auckland’s planners are backtracking somewhat from their imposition on the city of 3,600 so-called sites of cultural significance—each representing a “site” (said the council) that they had deemed “important” to Mana Whenua, with whom property-owners would be required to “consult” before doing anything more aggressive than mowing their lawn. These are are the “purple blobs” that in slowing or even stopping work on projects anywhere near them saw them dubbed a taniwha tax—and Lee Short from Democracy Action Lee Short sees a small victory in the council’s backtracking. “Our campaign is working,” he says::
After a year of hard work our campaign to expose Auckland Council’s objectionable Mana Whenua provisions in Auckland Unitary Plan is finally paying off.
Last month the Council voted to remove 600 sites of value to Mana Whenua from the Unitary Plan – sites that were put in the Plan back in 2013 without Council verifying their existence!
We’ve been speaking to Councillors; it was people power - people like you and me - which forced the Council’s hand. All those meetings, submissions and presentations, reports we commissioned, and face-to-face lobbying are working.
The NBR summarised it best in the headline to this article (paywalled): “Councillors’ tails still in twist over 'taniwha tax'”
But we have a lot more to do
Now that we’ve been through the small print of the Council’s decision, we are even more confident that the Council will need to make further changes. Reports provided to Councillors on 12th November suggest that the basis for including these sites is even shoddier than we thought. Officials recommended that 1387 sites of value be removed from the Unitary Plan.
The Council’s own officers said:
(a) 752 sites did not have values assigned by Mana Whenua;
(b) 73 sites were non-Māori or duplicates;
(c) 552 sites did not have a confirmed location; and
(d) 10 sites where it was unknown if the object of value was a natural or archaeological feature.
As reported by Stuff, Councillors tied themselves in knots debating this, resolving to only remove 600 sites, all from private property. Council Planning Officers also disclosed that Democracy Action was right all along — they have not visited, or verified the remaining 3000 ‘sites of value’.
By using Council's own GPS data our volunteers have visited many of the sites and found so-called ‘sites of value’ in residential subdivisions, underneath community buildings, in the middle of industrial estates, and even one in an old landfill.
In the coming weeks we hope to expose which of these ridiculous examples the Council has chosen to keep in the plan.
Over the past 12 months, Democracy Action has:
- Attracted 300 people to a public meeting to launch our campaign;
- Launched our new website, with resources to arm the public with the facts of how iwi representation is undermining democracy in local government;
- Highlighted the injustices of the mandatory requirement to seek Cultural Impact Assessments (CIAs) in a number of TV, radio and print stories;
- With our lawyers we have made four written and oral submissions to Auckland Council’s PAUP Hearings Panel;
- Photographed and catalogued many ‘sites of value’ that are clearly incorrect.
Over a thousand residents within ‘sites of value’ zones have been contacted, to point out possible CIA requirements affecting their properties.
Our aim is to have the Council adopt formal criteria and methodology, rather than guesswork, for sites scheduled for protection, thereby ensuring that the rights of Auckland property owners are not eroded without good reason.
We will also continue lobbying against several other provisions in the PAUP which propose the introduction of new rules regarding management of our natural and physical resources. One of these is the proposal to introduce co-governance and the joint management of water allocation and use in Auckland.
Democracy Action seeks your help in maintaining pressure against council on this issue:
We need your ongoing support to ensure our campaign can continue. I’m emailing to ask for you to click here to join Democracy Action, and/or click here to make a donation.
Your help means that we can continue to arm Aucklanders with the facts about the content and impact of the Mana Whenua provisions in the Unitary Plan.
Please help us to maintain our momentum in overturning these Mana Whenua provisions, as we continue to promote the democratic principles our parents and grandparents fought for.
Not to mention: our property rights.