Maori Party disputes caving to public pressure

By Alice Lock

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Seeking clarification: Marama Fox co-leader of the Maori Party disputes claims that the party has bowed to public pressure and withdrawn its support of the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill.
Seeking clarification: Marama Fox co-leader of the Maori Party disputes claims that the party has bowed to public pressure and withdrawn its support of the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill.

The Maori Party disputes claims that it bowed to public pressure with its support of the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill.

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox said it had been in negotiation for more than a year with Environment Minister Nick Smith and saying that it "caved" to public pressure was "ridiculous".

"We are just seeking clarification around section 360D as the policy in drafting is different to what we agreed. In the New Year we will sit down and have a discussion with the minister."

Section 360D meant plans or regulations made by local councils such as the Hastings District Council's GMO (genetically modified organisms) free food producer status could be vetoed by the minister.

The party understood the minister would only action the controversial section if there was conflict between two pieces of legislation but this wasn't the case.

"We are committed to working with the minister and won't talk publicly about the discussion further until we take our support further or stop the support."

Pure Hawke's Bay, a local group of food producers opposing the changes to section 360D, had hoped it wouldn't go ahead.

A target of these proposed changes was the regional GM Free food producer zones, directly affecting local food producers.

Food producers in Hawke's Bay have been working to secure the region's current GM Free food producer status, both to protect against economic risk and create branding opportunities for the local economy.

Labour's local government spokeswoman Meka Whaitiri said the Maori Party standing for the RMA was a disgrace to everything it believed in.

"GE Free zones from Hawke's Bay to Kaitaia would be placed at risk, in direct breach of the Māori Party's own policy to work towards a GE-Free New Zealand."

She said by announcing its support of National's bill, the Māori Party was agreeing to enshrine into law draconian ministerial powers to override local plans, council functions and consents.

"I've been calling on the Māori Party to walk away from these disastrous reforms ever since they first announced their misguided deal with National to support them.

Ms Fox said the comments made about its decision were precious and the actions of others were politicising it and creating "muddy waters".

"These actions of certain people are creating fear around GM Free zones in Hawke's Bay."

She said since the party's support for the bill there had already been an increase in power for local iwi.

"Iwi voices are not ignored and it has allowed a collaborative planning process that overcomes the bureaucratic system and gives us guardianship over the land."

Mrs Whaitiri said the Maori Party has flip-flopped for too long and National does not have
the votes to pass this highly unpopular legislation without it.

"It's time the Māori Party stopped doing the business of National and announced its support for this bill was officially at an end."

Pure Hawke's Bay was unable to be contacted last night.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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