The southern Iwi are demanding the removal of new aquaculture rules in Marlborough, with one saying the consultation process was so short it “smelled like a breach of the treaty”.
Five of the region’s nine tangata whenua iwi wrote to Marlborough District Council “astonished” that they had not been “adequately” consulted before the rules were released in November, despite attempts to weigh them. The council says the iwi have been approached about the rules.
The aquaculture chapter of Marlborough’s draft environmental plan was initially set aside when the rest of the plan was submitted for comment in 2016, as the board was “not convinced” that they would comply with the new laws. government.
In 2017, the council established the Marlborough Aquaculture Review Task Force, made up of marine farmers, community and government representatives, to help shape the new rules.
They were publicly notified on December 2, 2020, opening them up for public feedback.
A total of 113 submissions were submitted by the February 26 deadline. These have been posted on the council’s website. The submissions from the upper south of Iwi all argued that they had not been properly consulted.
The five iwi to be submitted were Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira (Ngāi Toa), Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Kuia, Te Ātiawa o Te Waka-a-Māui, and Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu (Ngāi Tahu). Te Ohu Kaimoana, or the Māori Fisheries Trust, also presented a paper.
Te Ātiawa said in their submission that they were “astonished” that the informal advice they provided “at the eleventh hour” was the only iwi input guiding the rules.
Ngāi Tahu had “significant concerns” about the lack of iwi input, while Ngāti Apa found it “particularly irritating”.
Ngāti Kuia said in his brief that they believe the council has a genuine desire to meet its treaty obligations, but lacks the knowledge and skills to do so.
“Or maybe [the council] underestimated the degree of formal consultation expected by Ngāti Kuia to refine aquaculture activities in Marlborough. “
Te Ātiawa said the process “smelled like a breach of the treaty.”
A council spokesperson said this week that the council was unable to comment as the rules were still subject to hearings.
Each iwi was also contacted for comment this week. Ngāti Apa said they had nothing to add to their submission.
Ngāti Kuia chairman Waihaere Mason said the rūnanga did not expect the new rules to be made public without a formal commitment and were considering how to resolve the issue. The remaining iwi were unable to respond in time.
Te Ohu Kaimoana said in his submission that he attempted to join the task force on behalf of the southern tangata whenua summit, but was “rejected” – a claim supported by three bidders – because the council wanted to speak to them “separately. “.
Ngāti Kuia said in his submission that the council asked how they wanted to engage with the proposed new rules. Ngāti Kuia told the council “separately,” but then said they were not engaged.
“Ngāti Kuia’s request to engage separately with [the] The advice was ignored and the board instead placed the burden of participation on the iwi, with no deal, ”their submission said.
The rūnanga asked to meet with the council to discuss the task force’s recommendations, but said “no meeting was ever scheduled.” Their suggestion to reopen the council’s iwi working group was “also ignored”.
Te Ohu Kaimoana and the five iwi each mentioned that the new rules freed up a “new” aquatic space, to which the iwi were entitled to 20% under the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act, whether through the aquatic area or financial compensation.
The “new” space was created by marine farms who had to leave a space for a swimming pool between their farms and the shore, to improve public access to the coasts.
But Te Ohu Kaimoana and every iwi said that this had not happened and had even been “explicitly forbidden”.
A report released alongside the new rules said that while the council “technically” opens new waters, it will ask iwi if that means it has to compensate them.
Ngāti Apa said it was “simply inappropriate” for the council to claim that the matter was their sole responsibility, given the impact of the rules on iwi and their assets.
“What is more worrying is that the [rule changes] in practice, seem to offer preferential access to other existing (non-iwi) marine farmers, ”said Ngāti Apa.
Ngāi Toa said the rules were “barriers” that violated tikanga (protocols), while Ngāi Tahu said the Treaty of Waitangi relationship required “a greater degree of consideration and respect” than the council did. had shown.
“Te rūnanga reserves the right to take legal action if its concerns are not taken into account,” said Ngāi Tahu.
The Council agreed on Thursday to accept a 113th submission from the McGuinness Institute and changes to submissions from three marine agriculture groups.
Local Democracy Reporting is a public interest information service supported by RNZ, the Association of News Editors and NZ On Air.