Speaking out against dodgy Auckland Council and their Maori pandering

David Rankin speaks out against the council’s mana whenua sites policies:

Aucklander and Ngapuhi cultural expert, David Rankin, who will be standing for the Auckland Council in 2016 election, has lashed out at the latest Council moves affecting ‘sites of cultural value’ in the city.

Mr Rankin says that the Council’s recent decision to remove 1373 locations from the list of supposedly culturally significant sites shows that the process has been what he describes as “a farce from the outset”.

Mr Rankin, who relocated the bones of his ancestor, Hone Heke, says that the process of claiming these “sites of value” reflected a snatch and grab mentality, and was culturally ignorant.

“Traditionally, tapu [sacred] sites were made tapu only for a specific reason, such as being the site of a battle.  Afterwards, they were made noa [ordinary] so everyone could return to using the site as required.”There is a brief karakia and ritual involved in returning a region to its noa status, says Mr Rankin, and he intends to perform this ceremony sometime next year.  As he explains.

“Once the tapu has been lifted, these sites will no longer have any sacred significance, and can be used as any other land in the city.”

It was essentially brownmail…and Stephen Franks points that out in a  recent blog post, although he doesn’t use my rather crude term.

We have advised a public spirited group called Democracy Action on the unlawfulness of Auckland Council’s ‘Mana Whenua’ provisions.

We have lately been investigating the prospects for a class action against the Council. In our opinion there are strong grounds for liability, but so far there may not have been enough evidence of realised loss to justify the costs of action. Today’s Herald reports that the Council will shortly vote on a proposal to remove 1,373 of the 3,600 ‘sites of value’:

That removal could delay the time when it would be economic to launch a class action.   

For those who have not been following the issues, Auckland now requires ‘Cultural Impact Assessments’ for resource consent processes for the private land of thousands of Aucklanders. There is evidence that some iwi “representatives” are cashing in on that requirement, and that the Council knew, or ought to have known that when they imposed the rule. They are effectively enabling or even abetting corruption.

The Aucklanders concerned had their land suddenly identified as being culturally significant to iwi, without warning, without consultation and mostly without Council inspection or verification of often ludicrous claims.

The Taxpayers’ Union called the consequent costs to property owners the ‘Taniwha Tax’ in the report it published after investigating the scheme.

CIAs can be expensive, contain ineffable waffle with nothing tangible to add to sustainable land use, cause delay, and be used by Council to make owners change their plans without any additional value to anyone, including ordinary iwi members (if they even know about the claimed ‘values’).

If your application triggers a CIA provision, iwi decide if you need a CIA – despite their clear (pecuniary) conflict of interest. Multiple iwi can claim a cultural interest in the same property. Sensible iwi that respect property rights might quickly say ‘no’ but still be tarred by the extortion of other iwi.

This is wrong. Auckland Council should refund the costs to the affected landowners.

Cultural Impact Assessments are a cash cow and a very real stand over tactic from council that is tantamount to brownmail…and illegal.

The Resource Management Act, section 36A says no one has a duty to consult any person in respect of a resource consent application.

The CIA requirements as designed by Auckland Council violate the rule of law (the provisions triggering CIAs are uncertain, especially subjective ‘values’). They conflict with the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990 and natural justice (iwi make the decision while affected by bias).

CIA requirements breach Treaty Article 2 which assured New Zealanders of classical property rights (undisturbed exclusive use and enjoyment).

We think the High Court could declare the CIA provisions largely unlawful but it would be reluctant to intervene until after the report and recommendations of the Panel considering the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan. Unfortunately for the affected Aucklanders, the CIA provisions were unnecessarily declared to be operative as soon as the PAUP was announced.

Auckland Council may be negligent for failing to implement the Unitary Plan with due care for the rights of those affected.

But just because there is a wrong it does not mean a remedy is affordable.  The amounts the Council should be liable to repay so far may still be less than the costs of getting a court to right the wrong.

This is just another example of a dodgy council riding roughshod over the wishes of their communities. Some civic minded wealthy person may just fund court action against these ratbags, like what is happening in Wellington. The sooner someone does the sooner the Council will begin to be more mindful of guarding the rights of all citizens.

 

– Stephen Franks


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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