Hapu representatives say MPI officials should follow the more conciliatory example of their Minister rather than taking offence at criticism of the poor process used to develop new rules for forestry.
Ministry for Primary Industries spatial, forestry and land management acting director Craig Trotter yesterday claimed MPI had taken a ‘collaborative approach’ to the the development of the proposed National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry ‘working closely with representatives from environmental non-government organisations.’
“That is complete rubbish” said Te Papatipu o Uepohatu Trust chair Tui Warmenhoven. We are the most affected region in the country and the only time we’ve seen MPI on this kaupapa was in March when they spent a couple of hours at a meeting in Ruatoria and recently in Gisborne when they presented the proposed NES.”
“It was clear at the presentation in Gisborne that MPI had not made any substantive changes based on the feedback they got in Ruatoria from East Coast hapu and iwi representatives.”
Mr Trotter also said MPI had given Gisborne District Council ‘ample time’ to have input into the NES wording.
“While GDC had a staff member on the working group, they were outnumbered by forest industry representatives for whom the NES is a license to wreak more havoc and care even less for our land and waterways” said Ms Warmenhoven, who is also a researcher studying the impacts of industry on the Waiapu river.
Ms Warmenhoven said it was clear when the NES was taken from the Ministry for the Environment and given to MPI that the focus was on reducing regulation and environmental protections.
“Just because someone was a member of the Working Group doesn’t mean they were listened to, and it was the same with the hui in Ruatoria – they used us to claim some degree of consultation and then continued with their industry-led plan to cut costs which our communities and catchments will suffer from.”
A number of regional councils have opposed the NES, especially in places like Malborough where scientific reports have shown a link between post-harvest run-off and a decline in the coastal marine environment.
At least two hapu groups within Ngati Porou are threatening to take a claim to the Waitangi Tribunal if a NES is adopted that does not address the environmental concerns outlined in the hapu and council submissions.
“We think it would have been wise for MPI officials to follow the example of Ministers Goodhew and Finlayson and not make any judgement or publicly criticise submitters while submissions are being considered” said Ms Warmenhoven. “It seems some within MPI may have already determined the outcome of the consultation process before they have considered the more than 16,000 submission received this week. That suggests this whole exercise, including the Working Group, may all have been an expensive sham.”
Ms Warmenhoven said, as part of Ngati Porou’s treaty settlement, the Crown committed to addressing the state of the land, waterways, and people of the Waiapu catchment, where much of the land is under Māori title.
“So the commitment has become a commitment for 100 years of restoration of the Waiapu catchment. How can we genuinely walk that 100-year road when we are creating a National Environmental Standard which basically throws all that acknowledgement, all that headway that we’ve made out the door?”
In a written statement, Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew has said much of the land the trusts were concerned about was zoned as high risk or very high risk, under the new standard’s erosion susceptibility classification.
“For areas of very high risk, resource consent is automatically required and the council will be able to place site-specific conditions on the management of the activity. For high risk areas, stringent conditions will be imposed on foresters working without a resource consent.”
Hapu and GDC submissions both make the point that most of the land in the district is in the high risk category and will therefore be a permitted activity as a lot of problems occur on land at less than the 25 degrees threshold.
“We make the important point that it is much easier if the Consenting Authority is able to assess the specifics of each application based on the particular situation and impose conditions at that point rather than only having recourse to the expensive option of litigation if an activity isn’t complying with whatever generic rules MPI comes up with.”
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The hapu have made their full submissions available at: www.hikurangitakiwa.nz
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Tui Warmenhoven, Chair, Te Papatipu o Uepohatu Trust – Tel. 021 413508 – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pia Pohatu, Trustee, Hikurangi Takiwa Trust – Email: email@example.com