Brewer slams Maori plan as unrealistic

By Yvonne Tahana

Cameron Brewer. Photo / Greg Bowker
Cameron Brewer. Photo / Greg Bowker

An Auckland councillor has criticised a new plan to improve Maori wellbeing in the region as a "wish-list" that shouldn't be funded.

The Independent Maori Statutory Board released its wide-ranging Maori Plan for Tamaki Makaurau at the weekend, setting out 49 specific cultural, social, economic and environmental goals.

Councillor Cameron Brewer said Mayor Len Brown had to write off the plan because Aucklanders couldn't afford it. "The [board] had their chance back in May and June when councillors debated and signed off the 10-year budget. To deliver their wish-list when we've literally just printed the Long Term Plan is not good process and subsequently is not going to happen.

"Good on the board, but I just can't see where all these hundreds of millions of dollars are going to come from," Mr Brewer said.

Previously, the board had asked for $295 million over a decade to fund Maori projects.

Statutory board chairman David Taipari said that while there was no budget attached to the plan, his members would advocate at council committee meetings and during the yearly annual plan process for its implementation.

He said Mr Brewer had known all along about a plan being produced and couldn't plead ignorance about it.

Under the plan the Auckland Council has been asked to facilitate a relationship between 19 mana whenua tribes, the council's Auckland Property Ltd (APL) and Auckland Council Investments Ltd (ACIL) concerning "management, acquisition and divesting of land and other strategic assets."

In total, both companies manage $2.4 billion worth of assets, including a 22.5 per cent shareholding in Auckland Airport and a 100 per cent stake in Ports of Auckland

Mr Taipari said direct engagement between the council, its companies and Auckland Maori or tribes could provide opportunities for investment if surplus land or shares were to be sold.

"If there are opportunities available to [Maori] before it goes to the open market ... I think the opportunities are pretty open ended really and I think that's the point: that when an opportunity does occur Maori should be engaged directly to consider those options ... rather than on-selling to offshore or the like."

The plan was also a pointer that Maori in the region would like the boards of publicly or part-publicly owned assets to more closely reflect the community, Mr Taipari said.

"We're not trying to take over and run everything but we're seeking some equitable partnerships which the Treaty would give effect to ... and [for] Maori investors to have confidence that these types of boards and council-controlled organisations reflect the whole community and not just part of it," he said.

APL chief executive David Rankin was overseas yesterday. ACIL chief executive Gary Swift said he was interested in exploring what the nature of a relationship between iwi and his company might be. However, he didn't believe a quota should exist in regards to Maori representation on boards.

Mayor Brown would not be drawn on more Maori on boards but said: "While I am mayor, there will be no privatisation of strategic assets such as airport shares, POAL [Ports of Auckland Ltd] or our water company, so that's off the table.

"When council looks to sell any property assets that are surplus to requirements, we will enter into a normal sale process."

- NZ Herald

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