Auckland iwi Ngati Whatua has denied a claim by National MPs it was blindsided by the Government on the America's Cup village on the waterfront.
The claim came from National's America's Cup spokesman Gerry Brownlee and Crown-Maori Relations spokesman Chris Finlayson, who accused Economic Development Minister David Parker of not consulting the local iwi.
"It defies belief that when Mr Parker and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff agreed last weekend that the latest of their many iterations of potential America's Cup bases was to be progressed they hadn't consulted Ngāti Whātua," Brownlee said.
The latest plans indicate the Minister for Economic Development, David Parker, has listened to our concerns, which we appreciate
"But given the Council and Government's track record of not informing important stakeholders of their proposals – most recently America's Cup holders Team New Zealand two weeks ago – it could be true. However, we would have expected that the iwi be included," he said.
Finlayson said "the Crown is obligated to negotiate redress of the Waitemata Harbour with local iwi, which means Ngāti Whātua should have been one of Mr Parker's first ports of call when dreaming up alternative America's Cup base options, but he seems to have forgotten to include them or been unaware.
"For Ngāti Whātua to be surprised to discover two 110 metre concrete structures on Wynyard Wharf in the latest proposal suggests Mr Parker isn't across his brief and hasn't been communicating well at all," Finlayson said.
Ngati Whatua spokesman Ngarimu Blair said he was surprised to see Finlayson, the former Minister of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, criticising the Government for its lack of consultation with iwi.
"The latest plans indicate the Minister for Economic Development, David Parker, has listened to our concerns, which we appreciate," said Blair, saying he is encouraged by the plans and confident all parties will reach a satisfactory solution.
After protracted negotiations, Team New Zealand yesterday revealed a new plan that team boss Grant Dalton said could work, but still had problems that need to be resolved.
The latest plan, known as the Point-Halsey option, involves moving a double base for Team New Zealand from a 75m extension on Hobson Wharf to Halsey Wharf. A second double base will be located on Halsey Wharf and additional bases on Wynyard Point as syndicates are confirmed.
Parker said it would cost $140 million, between $15 million and $35 million cheaper than earlier options.
Blair said that yesterday with submissions closing on Panuku Development Auckland's two resource consent applications, the iwi confirmed its objections.
The applications are for an earlier proposal to locate the bases from Hobson Wharf to Wynyard Point, including a 75m extension of Halsey Wharf into the Waitemata Harbour; and relocating the ferry and fishing industry to two new wharves on Wynyard Wharf.
"We recognise the Waitemata Harbour as a taonga and want to see a proposal that has minimal impact on the Harbour and that is cost effective.
"We were disappointed that Panuku also failed to inform us in our meetings about the two proposed 110m concrete wharf structures on Wynyard Wharf," Blair said.
He said it was ironic to see the former National Government raising concerns about a lack of consultation given its approach to cross-claims strengthened the voice of those with tenuous connections in central Auckland at the expense of mana whenua.
"Mr Finlayson may also wish to reflect on the fact his former Government's approach to multi-iwi engagement forums largely diluted the voice of iwi, rather than strengthening it," Blair said.
Parker said it appears Brownlee and Finlayson "are all at sea".
"If they had actually read Wednesday's press release from Ngati Whatua Orakei and had looked at the announcement from the Government they would have realised they were not talking about the same thing."
He said Ngati Whatua Orakei were yesterday reconfirming their objection to harbour extensions in the resource consent lodged by Panuku, back in January, on the day submissions closed. They were not commenting on the release of the new America's Cup venue proposal. It was just coincidence the two things happened on the same day.
"It turns out that it is National that failed to consult with Auckland iwi, not this Government.
"Yet again National MPs have rushed to comment before doing their homework," Parker said.