Iwi leaders have drawn up an ambitious proposal to plant a million hectares of forest in exchange for Government's agreement to step up efforts to combat climate change.
The draft proposal was included in a booklet obtained by the Herald, which shows what members of the Iwi Chairs Forum raised with Prime Minister John Key at Waitangi last weekend.
The booklet contains the reports of various working groups within the 65-person forum on issues ranging from education to freshwater rights and mining.
It refers to a major proposal for a Crown-iwi partnership on climate change.
The forum's climate change working group said iwi would commit to planting a million hectares of forest over 10 years on Maori-owned, marginal land in Northland, the Central North Island and East Cape, potentially creating up to 50,000 jobs.
In exchange, iwi leaders wanted the Government to champion the interests of Maori in any international deal made at climate change talks in Paris this year.
They also wanted New Zealand to make greater emissions reduction targets in line with the US, China and the EU.
Ngati Hine leader Pita Tipene said the forum had planned to discuss the proposal with ministers at Waitangi but it had been put on hold to allow more consultation with iwi and to gather more information on the feasibility of a massive planting programme.
Climate Change Minister Tim Groser said he was aware of a draft proposal but said "it was ultimately not presented to the Government by iwi leaders".
The iwi working group's report said Maori communities could be disproportionately affected by climate change because of their investment in affected industries such as forestry, farming, and fishing.
The booklet included a letter from climate change iwi leadership group chair Apirana Mahuika - who died yesterday - to Mr Key.
Dr Mahuika said the prospect of a drought in New Zealand "further confirms the seriousness of climate change" and leaders had unanimously agreed to prioritise the issue.
The education group report set out the iwi leaders' desire to use the charter schools model to develop more "iwi-based education".
However, it also voiced frustration with the Ministry of Education for its engagement with the iwi leaders, saying the work did not seem to be a priority and was dealt with in a piecemeal fashion.
The report noted ongoing Maori and Pasifika underachievement and said Maori charter schools offered "a constructive pathway to halt this unwanted trend".
A proposal contained in the report to sort out water rights within a year was rejected by the Government which expects to deal with iwi rights as part of its wider review on water allocation.
The water report by Ngai Tahu chair Mark Solomon noted that issues the freshwater group was grappling with included the mechanisms for water allocations and "determining the level of comfort for iwi utilising allocation of water for commercial gain [either through direct use or lease of water]".
They expected to explore governance opportunities, regulatory options and water allocation.
Iwi Chairs Forum
• Panel of 65 iwi leaders from across the country.
• Formed in 2005 and meets regularly "to discuss and enable Maori aspirations in the spheres of cultural, social, economic, environmental and political development".
• Includes 10 working groups on issues such as freshwater, climate change and housing.