Auckland Council is sticking with a new rule requiring owners to seek iwi approval for work on their land.
The council has confirmed its support for the "cultural impact assessments" in the proposed Unitary Plan, or new planning rulebook for the city.
Some amendments have been agreed by the council's Auckland Development Committee to ensure the requirements only apply in situations where there is the potential for a resource consent to have an adverse impact on the cultural values of Auckland's Mana Whenua.
"This will be the council's position going into mediation with Aucklanders who have made submissions on this aspect of the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan," said chief planning officer Dr Roger Blakeley. "The council remains open to discussing the views of submitters and exploring ways of reaching a common ground."
When the rules came into effect in September 2013, concerns were raised about the difficulty applicants might have engaging directly with Mana Whenua to confirm whether or not a cultural impact assessment is required, and if so, how one might be prepared.
To address these concerns, the council set up a facilitation service in March last year which has dealt with almost 300 applications in that time. Of those, 36 resulted in Mana Whenua confirming an assessment was required. This is from a total of over 10,000 resource consent applications in roughly the same period.
"The council has received a considerable amount of positive feedback about the cultural impact assessment facilitation service and intends to continue it into the foreseeable future," Dr Blakeley said.
"Protecting Auckland's rich cultural heritage is fundamentally important as our city grows. Maori cultural heritage is a key component of this," he said.
"The council's proposed Auckland Unitary Plan takes a step forward from the work a number of Auckland's former councils had undertaken in addressing this issue. The requirements do not provide Mana Whenua with a 'right of veto' over development in Auckland.
"They are a critical tool that ensures the council is in an informed position when it comes to assessing the impacts of development on cultural heritage and the values held by Mana Whenua, but ultimately decisions still rest with the council," Dr Blakeley said.
Lee Short, spokesman for Democracy Action, an organisation set up to oppose the rules, said: "The cost of cultural impact assessments is imposed by Mana Whenua, the decisions are made by Council and property owners are left to pick up the bill."
"The 3,600 designated sites of value to Mana Whenua have, to date, not been verified by the Council."
"The council appears completely unwilling to verify if these sites of value to Mana Whenua even exist. The designation of these sites as being of value simply has no basis in fact. Many sites have been disturbed, destroyed or no longer exist."