Iwi input is embedded in environmental planning decisions, with the Hawke's Bay Regional Planning Committee Bill about to become law.

The bill passed its third reading in Parliament on Wednesday, creating a standing committee that comprises half Hawke's Bay Regional councillors and half Hawke's Bay iwi representatives.

It formalises the existing committee, formed in 2011 as part of Treaty of Waitangi settlements, overseeing the review and development of regional planning documents, as required by the Resource Management Act.

The committee is responsible for the review and development of the Regional Policy Statement, the Regional Resource Management Plan and the Regional Coastal Environment Plan.


Hawke's Bay Regional Council chairman Fenton Wilson was at the final reading of the bill in Parliament last week, with "a large contingent of our treaty partners".

He said the committee worked well, involving iwi in the early stages of consent applications. In the past, iwi were an "interested bystander" until proposals were made public.

"Iwi now has a table right at the start."

Committee operating procedures had high thresholds compared with other councils' Maori committees. Quorum was 75 per cent of members and a vote required 80 per cent, "but we are aiming for consensus".

The council could not overturn a committee decision but could send the matter back for further consideration before it went out for public consultation.

The committee currently had a streamlining effect on decisions, rather than adding an extra layer to the process, he said.

"It is our answer to the water boards of the Waikato.

"There are seven catchment areas in Hawke's Bay and it seemed incredibly cumbersome to have a water board for each one, considering the number of people involved."


Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated chief executive Dr Adele Whyte said she was pleased iwi influence was guaranteed.

"It is something our treaty claimant groups have negotiated, so we support them," she said.

Hastings mayor and president of Local Government New Zealand Lawrence Yule said the bill explicitly future-proofed the committee should council amalgamation take effect in Hawke's Bay.

The Maori Party said it was pleased to see iwi in Hawke's Bay would have greater input.