Property magnate Sir Bob Jones will be at a public meeting next month seeking abolition of an Auckland Council rule requiring building owners to seek iwi approval for work on their land.
Sir Bob vented his frustration at the rule in a weekly Herald column this month after his company had to contact 13 iwi before it could remove an 11m concrete block wall and a window and replace it with a glass frontage for a ground-floor restaurant.
He called the process a racket and a classic case of bureaucrats worrying about cultural correctness without thinking through the consequences.
One iwi, Ngai Tai Ki Tamaki, said permission was not required for the work, but asked Robt Jones Holdings to consider it because their ancestors, centuries ago, gathered in the vicinity in the area, Sir Bob said.
A rule in the council's draft Unitary Plan requires applicants carrying out work on 61 sites of significance and 3600 sites of value to mana whenua to obtain a "cultural impact assessment" from one or more of 19 iwi groups.
In the past six months, fewer than 200 of 6000 resource consents have triggered a possible cultural impact assessment, said council chief planning officer Dr Roger Blakeley.
Fifty site visits and 12 assessments had been formally requested.
He said protecting Auckland's cultural heritage was a key part of the council's job.
So, too, was making sure people did not get tied up in unnecessary red tape.
Dr Blakeley said the council had been working with iwi to find ways to minimise the effect of the requirement on landowners and had introduced a facilitation service to simplify the process, which Sir Bob said did not occur in his case.
Aprilanne Bonar, who sought consent to build a new garage and swimming pool on her property in Titirangi, said she had had a positive and practical response from two iwi, Ngati Whatua and Te Kawerau Iwi Tribal Authority, for a cultural impact assessment costing $500, including an archaeologist visiting the site.
"They [iwi] do have an interest and do have a say but their attitude was let's get on and do it," she said.
Ngai Tai Ki Tamaki representative Dave Beamish said yesterday that iwi were being selective about where they wanted to apply the rule, which was valid.
Sir Bob's column was unbalanced, he said.
Mr Beamish said the iwi was approached by Sir Bob's planning consultants and at a cost of less than $300 came up with a suggestion for an opportunity to incorporate a bit of local history into the design.
"It's about revealing to the public a little bit of local history not apparent in a modern cityscape.
"Tamaki Makaurau - Auckland - has got 1000 years of history," he said.
About 1100 people and organisations who have made submissions on the rule in the Unitary Plan have been invited to a meeting at the Aotea Centre on October 18.
Lawyer and former Act MP Stephen Franks, who represents several of those making submissions, said the meeting would offer practical help to people before public hearings on the plan, but it might become a political platform as well.
The public and politicians were welcome to attend the meeting, he said.
"It's pretty clear people have picked up that these kinds of very ill-defined powers look like the council is just going to get advice, but are being turned into de facto veto powers," said Mr Franks.