Māori and the RMA

RMA Principles

All persons exercising functions and powers under the Act are required to recognise and provide for seven matters of national importance set out in section 6. This includes section 6(e) the relationship of Maori and their culture and traditions with their ancestral lands, water, sites, waahi tapu, and other taonga.

Section 7 of the Resource Management Act sets out 'other matters' which persons exercising functions and powers under the Act must 'have particular regard to'. This includes section 7(a) kaitiakitanga.

Treaty of Waitangi

Section 8 requires that all persons exercising functions and powers under the Resource Management Act take into account the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Rotorua Weka Carving (Credit: Raewyn Peart)

In achieving the purpose of this Act, all persons exercising functions and powers under it, in relation to managing the use, development, and protection of natural and physical resources, shall take into account the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi).

It is important to note the distinction between the “principles of the Treaty of Waitangi ” and the actual text(s) of the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi). The principles of the Treaty of Waitangi include the duty of the Crown and Māori to act reasonably and in good faith and the duty of the Crown to actively protect Māori interests and make informed decisions (which in most cases will require consultation).

Consultation on policy statements and plans

The Resource Management Act requires the Minister for the Environment to seek and consider comments from relevant iwi authorities when preparing a national policy statement. 542

The Resource Management Act also requires local authorities to consult local tangata whenua, through iwi authorities 543  and take into account any relevant planning documents recognised by an iwi authority 544  when preparing a policy statement or plan.

There are specific requirements for consultation with iwi authorities. 545  These include considering ways in which the local authority may foster increased capacity of iwi authorities to respond to an invitation to consult, the establishment and maintenance of processes to provide opportunities for iwi authorities to consult, enabling iwi authorities to identify resource management issues of concern to them and indicating how those issues have been or are to be addressed.

In order to assist with consultation, local authorities are required to maintain, for each iwi and hapu within its region or district, a record of the contact details for each iwi authority, the planning documents recognised by each iwi authority, and the area over which iwi or hapu exercise kaitiakitanga. 546

Consultation on resource consents

Section 36A of the RMA explicitly states that neither an applicant nor a local authority have a duty to consult any person (including Māori) about a resource consent application unless this is required under other legislation. However, an Assessment of Effect should identify any persons who will be affected by a proposal, any consultation undertaken, and any response to the views of any person consulted. 547  Early consultation with Māori is best practice for  resource consent applicants (where Māori interests may be affected) in order to establish a working relationship with tangata whenua, demonstrate compliance with the relevant provisions in Part 2 of the Resource Management Act, and to reduce the likelihood of future difficulties arising, including litigation. 548   

Transfer of powers

The Resource Management Act provides for local authorities to transfer their functions, powers or duties under the Act to public bodies, including iwi authorities. 549  Local authorities have generally been reluctant to relinquish their powers in this manner.

Joint management agreements

The Resource Management Act provides for the development of joint management agreements 550   between a local authority and an iwi authority (or other group representing hapu) that provide for the parties to jointly perform the local authority’s functions in relation to a natural or physical resource in all or part of the region/district.

A local authority that wants to make a joint management agreement must satisfy itself that each party to the joint management agreement represents the relevant community of interest and has the technical or special capacity or expertise to perform or exercise the function, power, or duty jointly with the local authority. 551  Any party to a joint management agreement may terminate that agreement by giving the other parties 20 working days’ notice. 552

The first joint management agreement was signed by the Taupo District Council and the Tuwharetoa Maori Trust Board on 17 January 2009. The joint management agreement provides for publicly notified resource consents and private plan change applications in relation to multiply owned Māori land within the rohe of Ngati Tuwharetoa and within the Taupo District to be decided by a panel of decision makers consisting of two commissioners chosen by each party and a jointly appointed fifth commissioner and chairman. It is the first example of an iwi authority having an equal share of statutory resource management decision-making power within New Zealand.

The Waikato River and Waipa River Settlement Acts require joint management agreements to be entered into between iwi and the relevant councils. These provide for the local planning, consenting, monitoring and enforcement functions under the Resource Management Act.  These Joint Management Agreements are now in place, including:

  1. Section 46 Resource Management Act

  2. Clauses 3 of Schedule 1 Resource Management Act

  3. Sections 61(2A)(a), 66(2A)(a), and 74(2A) Resource Management Act

  4. Clauses 3B of Schedule 1 Resource Management Act

  5. Section 35A Resource Management Act

  6. Clause 1AA Schedule 4 Resource Management Act 1991

  7. See Te Kura Pukeroa Maori Inc v Thames-Coromandel District Council (NZEnvC W069/07, 5 September 2007) where an appeal was struck out on the basis that there is no obligation to consult any persons in relation to a resource consent application.

  8. Section 33 Resource Management Act 1991

  9. Sections 36B to 36E Resource Management Act 1991

  10. Section 36B Resource Management Act 1991

  11. Section 36E Resource Management Act 1991

Last updated at 2:57PM on December 16, 2014