WINSTON PETERS ACHIEVED HEADLINES (his only aim) for arguing at Orewa that National's proposed Resource Management Act (RMA) changes will take NZ down a path of separatism.
Maybe he hasn’t noticed that we’ve following that path for some decades – and not just in planning law.
The NZ First leader said that under the new RMA bill, every council would be required by law to invite local iwi to participate in the formulation of policy plans, including water management plans…
National had also backed away from reforming sections six and seven of the RMA, which set out environmental bottom lines.
"It is obvious that National have been brownmailed into making policy concessions to the Maori Party. They were bent over a barrel and, not surprisingly, didn't have the backbone to stand up to them.
"The proposed changes to the RMA are a signal flare to the entire country that the two parties are taking us down the track of separatism. We are no longer one people. We are moving towards two separate groups with separate rights."
This is true. Sections six and seven form part of the “heart” of this egregious Act. National had originally proposed adding the RMA’s first reference to private property rights; removing consideration of so-called “amenity values” and “intrinsic values of ecosystems”; and weakening the ill-defined consideration of “kaitiakitanga” that helps make iwi “guardians” of land they no longer own. Under pressure from the Maori Party and Peter Done-Nothing, they backtracked.
And proposed in the Bill are now so-called “Iwi participation arrangements” that make explicit what has been implicit for some time: that iwi are becoming “partners” with council planners in telling you what you can and can’t do on your own land.
Under the Bill [explained Audrey Young in the Otago Daily Times back in November], every council within a month of being elected will be required to invite the relevant iwi authority to take part in devising an agreement about how they will take part in plans or policy statements of the council… The proposal will be a lightning rod for those who see any consultation with Maori as special treatment.
That last observation couldn’t be more true.
Audrey Young however points out that “the irony of Mr Peters' objections to the Maori Party's plans for iwi participation”: “were it not for him, the Maori Party would not have had the bargaining power to get [the iwi participation arrangements] in the RMA Bill.” Interesting then that Prime Minister Key now suggests with Peters’s support he could “wind back” these consessions.
PETERS IS RIGHT TO say this is separatism. He is wrong to think it is anything new.
In my chapter in the recent book One Treaty, One Nation (available at all good booksellers), I point out that separatism is nothing new; it has been a growing part of New Zealand planning law—a process that accelerated in the last two decades with the introduction of the Resource Management Act.
I’lll post some excerpts here, starting my story in the University of Auckland School of Planning, where many of those now writing and agreeing to so-called “iwi planning documents” first learned their trade.
Nearly twenty years ago I sat in a lecture at the University of Auckland School of Planning (a place wherein planners’ authority to dictate to property-owners is wholly unquestioned), being lectured at by senior lecturer Hirini Matunga about future progress in “indigenous planning” (“a parallel planning system,” we were told, “grounded in indigenous knowledge, processes and institutions”). Law around the Treaty of Waitangi, said Matunga, currently only recognised an “Anglo-American” concept of property rights; to cement further progress it was important to erect “Maori rights to manage resources.”
To make the point explicit, what was poposed as “progress” over the next two decades would be the erection of “a parallel planning system” that in rejecting the so-called “Anglo-American’ concept of property rights” it would be made possible to “manage” other people’s property.
The Resource Management Act and the ‘tikanga’ already embodied was only the first step, students heard. The next was to gain political power through planning legislation for so-called “iwi planning documents,” and thence to so-called “rangatiratanga” (a “right to self-sufficiency and self-determination”).
Twenty years later, the students at that lecture are now writing the country’s planning documents – and what’s in them should be no surprise.
“Maori tribal planning documents are now an indelible part of New Zealand’s planning landscape,” enthused Hirini Matunga [two decades later], teacher now to two generations of planners and currently head of Māori & Indigenous Development at Lincoln.
The “struggle” has been a steady one, beginning from the first time planners gained power over property-owners with the first Town Planning Act of 1926. Major milestones in the process were passed with the Town & Country Planning Act of 1977 (making the relationship between Maori and “ancestral lands” a “matter of national planning importance”); continuing with the 1985 Waitangi Tribunal recommendation for a “comprehensive review” of planning and resource legislation that recognised Maori interests as being independent of property ownership; being further extended with the 1987 declaration in the High Court that “cultural relationships existed irrespective of title”…; through the addition of “waahi tapu” to the protections afforded by the Historical Places Act; to the Resource Management Act itself and its subsequent amendments that built in all this mush and began to turn it towards the goal of plunder.
The result, said Matunga in 2006, is that “for the first time in the world [there are clauses in a major planning document that] give statutory recognition to a parallel planning system grounded in indigenous knowledge, processes and institutions.”
Remember, this is separatism. And he says it like it is a good thing.
Remember, even without the provisions now proposed by the Maori Party, Act already
contains [at the heart of the Act all] the obligatory Tiriti-babble. You are counselled by the Act that when doing anything more aggressive than mowing your lawn you “shall take into account the principles of the Te Tiriti o Waitangi” – and to this day the country has yet to find a court willing or able to explain precisely how that might be done, nor a politician willing to acknowledge that the Treaty was intended to impose obligations only on Treaty signatories, not on councils nor on private land-holders.
And note that National had not proposed to remove that imposition.
Note also that
the [original] 1991 RMA legislation also required that authorities “have regard to” so-called Iwi Planning Documents, the “parallel planning system” in which our friend at the Auckland Planning School held out such hope. In a 2003 amendment, this language was strengthened to mean that “decision makers” are legally required to “take into account” these Iwi Documents.
Which is precisely what Auckland Council’s “planners” did [for example] when drawing up their super-sized council’s new “Unitary Plan.” And which is precisely what every planner in every other region of New Zealand will be required to do when they next draw up their own new Planning Documents, which they are legally required to do at reasonably regular intervals…
TWO DECADES AGO NATIONAL’S now-disgraced Minister of Treaty Capitulations Doug Graham told New Zealanders: “The sooner we realise there are laws for one and laws for another, the better." At a meeting in 2013, Professor John Burrows and Tipene O’Regan talked about the Key Government’s Constitutional Review, on which they are panellists, where O’Regan announced “there are ‘big changes’ ahead in terms of how we are governed.” …
The overt changes feared as an outcome of that Constitutional Review may be less important than these covert changes described above that have been effected over several decades by determined activists inside the planning tent.
And in their train have come further innovations, such as section 85 of the National/ACT Government’s Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009 that “allowed the Independent Maori Statutory Board to appoint a maximum of two persons to sit as members on each of the Council's committees that deal with the management and stewardship of natural and physical resources. These members are unelected, with full voting rights alongside our democratically elected councillors.”
If round about now you feel like saying “we’re moving towards co-governance here,” then feel free.
The activists have been explicit.
Two decades ago that senior planning lecturer handed us a roadmap whose endpoint was “a review of the RMA to provide for rangatiratanga,” making it possible for iwi leaders to “manage” other people’s property.
A 2011 roadmap published by another academic* now sees the endpoint of activism as “explicit devolution of power to Maori,” with “co-management” of other people’s property by government and iwi leaders; “exclusion [of iwi] from control by regulatory regimes; and, finally and explicitly, “Maori veto powers” over all development in the country.
So you see, “iwi participation agreements” are only another station on that journey begun some decades ago—and certainly a very far cry indeed from our “Anglo-American’ concept of property rights
One important question now then would be: does Peters genuinely wish to help those trying to derail that train? Or merely to score another easy headline.
His response to Key’s offer then will be telling.
* Appearing in S.G. Wevers’s 2011 Otago University thesis at the Faculty of Law, Recognising Rangatiratanga: Sharing Power with Maori through Co-Management, p. 22