Te Pāti Māori co-leader and environment spokesperson Debbie Ngarewa-Packer says the proposed RMA reform legislation undermines whānau, hapū and iwi.
“Te Pāti Māori cannot support the RMA reforms until changes are made to protect and restore our environment and guarantee the rights of interests of tangata whenua,” Ngarewa-Packer said.
“Resource management is one of the most critical areas of law, especially for us as tangata whenua and our rights and interests under Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Legislation of this significance should not be rushed – the government must have the active consent of key tangata whenua.
“But, instead, key groups like the National Iwi Chairs Forum are urging caution and highlighting that the scale and pace of the reforms cannot be implemented on the ground. They also strongly reject the notion of a national Māori entity on the basis that it would undermine the rangatiratanga of hapū and iwi.”
The government introduced the Natural and Built Environment Bill and the Spatial Planning Bill to Parliament last week to replace the Resource Management Act. Associate Justice Minister Kiritapu Allan said last week the bills will uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Parties will often support bills at the first reading and seek to introduce amendments at the select committee and later stages. But Ngarewa-Packer says the bills will take Māori ‘backwards’.
“These bills only require setting environmental limits that prevent ecosystems degrading from their current state. This is despite the situation across many different areas, where maintaining ecosystems at their current state is not sustainable. The current resource management regime at least requires sustainable management and environmental standards to reflect the safeguarding of the life-supporting capacity of ecosystems, a higher standard than what is being proposed here.
“It is clear to us that the new regime will favour developers at the expense of the natural environment, which undermines the government’s own core objectives with these reforms, protecting and enhancing ecosystems. We are currently facing an unprecedented biodiversity crisis and the imminent collapse of many ecosystems integral to our way of life – to weaken baseline environmental protections at a time like this is a sick joke.”
Despite not backing the bills at the first reading, Te Pāti Māori will seek a range of amendments, including the requirement for the restoration of ecosystems from their current state, increasing Māori appointments to regional planning committees to at least 50% and increasing the weight of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in the legislation.
The Natural and Built Environment Bill will be debated in the House this afternoon.