Land under claim sold, council told

By Rosemary Roberts

Successive Whangarei territorial authorities have failed to establish enduring and healthy relationships with Maori and have sold land on which Treaty of Waitangi claims had not been resolved, says Whangarei hapu group Te Parawhau of Ngati Hau.
Peter Vaughan delivered the hapu's message to the Whangarei District Council earlier this week in submissions on the 2011-2012 district annual plan.
The council heard 106 submissions from a diverse range of individuals and organisations, on topics ranging from iwi relationships, to requests for action on building a large auditorium on the Forum North site from the Culture Heritage and Arts Resource Trust (Chart) and for funding for cycle routes.
Mr Vaughan said any consultation over the years had been mostly over one-off issues and "to date council had struggled to weave a Maori perspective into its overall operations that fully reflects legislative requirements for Maori to contribute to council decision-making processes".
In turn Councillor Kahu Sutherland told Mr Vaughan that the council had attempted to have discussions with Te Parawhau over the years "and struggled with it quite honestly". He said the hapu submission contained "some pretty strong words".
He also asked for some clarification about whether the submission related to family or Treaty of Waitangi issues.
Mr Vaughan said Te Parawhau's submission was not trying to "blow you out of the water".
"We are here to work together with you ... but clearly all lands under Treaty claims should be designated restricted assets until all Treaty claims are resolved."
He raised two WDC decisions issues which had caused offence: The sale of the Kaituna or Opau block (in the Port Rd area) by a previous council, although there was a Treaty claim on the land; and the sale of land for a new sawmill without putting a monitoring regime in place during excavation work, despite knowing the site was significant to Maori as a pa site and burial ground.

On Te Parawhau's behalf he asked for a community review process to evaluate and strategise working with Maori; recognition and respect for Maori as Tangata Whenua and to act with good faith and integrity concerning Treaty of Waitangi claims and partnership relationships with Tangata Whenua.

- Northern Advocate

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