By Charlotte Muggeridge - December 2017
In this article, we outline the changes to the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) in relation to iwi participation in policy statements (statements) and plan changes which took effect on 19 April 2017.
Informal arrangements between councils and iwi groups are common: examples include joint management agreements and advisory boards. However, without specific statutory requirements, local authorities can have limited opportunities and policies in place for Māori participation. These amendments aim to create greater consistency throughout all regions with an objective to establish better working relationships between local authorities and iwi.
The amended Schedule 1, clause 4A, states:
Section 32 reports
Section 32 of the RMA has been amended so that when a local authority completes its evaluation report on a statements or plan change, it must include summaries from the advice iwi provided, and consider how the new statement or plan change responds to that advice.
These provisions apply when local authorities appoint commissioners for hearings on statements or plan changes. Section 34A has been amended to require local authorities to consult with iwi on whether it would be appropriate to appoint a commissioner who has an understanding of tikanga Māori and can speak to the perspectives of the iwi involved.
This requirement does not apply to hearings in collaborative or streamlined planning processes. Instead, for a collaborative process, one member of the collaborative group must be appointed by iwi and at least one member of the review panel must have an understanding of tikanga Māori and be able to communicate perspectives of tikanga whenua. Under a streamlined process, the Minister may direct a hearing where the provisions of s 34A(1A) apply.
Mana Whakahono a Rohe is a way in which agreements between local authorities and iwi can be recorded. This new arrangement is arguably one of the most significant changes (outside the Treaty settlements process) which seeks to enable iwi and local authorities to create constructive and up front relationships.
This relationship can be between a local authority and an iwi or hapū. The iwi or hapū can invite the local authority to form a Mana Whakahono a Rohe. The local authority must convene a hui where discussions can take place to form joint arrangements. This process is run alongside (rather than instead of) other RMA processes.
An arrangement should include discussion on:
An arrangement may identify:
If a Mana Whakahono a Rohe has been established, it is the local authority’s responsibility to formalise its internal arrangements, and create a process to ensure that any agreed arrangements will be followed in practice.
These new amendments have the potential for iwi and local authorities to have a more integrated approach to decision making.
Charlotte is a Solicitor in our Property Team and can be contacted on 07 958 7439.