Friday, June 5, 2009

WHY? Ngai Tahu Property

I would like to know what is going on here? no information on TRONT website, or the NT Property website.

Why do we have to get our news about our Iwi from the papers?

"Ngai Tahu pulls plug on water case

Ngai Tahu has pulled the plug on a historically significant case on how water is allocated.The South Island tribe's property arm has abandoned its Supreme Court Appeal against Central Plains Water and Canterbury Regional Council over who had first rights to water from the Waimakariri River.The parties were arguing over whose application was filed first under the rules set down in the Resource Management Act.

However, a late intervention by the New Zealand Maori Council threatened to open the case up in a way which would give the courts more discretion, and potentially bring the Treaty of Waitangi and other Maori interests into play.

Jim Nichols, the deputy chair of the Maori Council, is disappointed the case is over.“The debate over whether or not allocation should be made on the basis of first up best dressed or on the basis of treaty tikanga and kaitiaki is a critical issue that at some point needs to be debated,” Mr Nichols says.The Maori Council is exploring whether the case can be kept alive even though the main litigants have dropped out.

Ngai Tahu Properties refused to comment on its reasons for abandoning its appeal."


Anonymous said...

Kia ora Marty

As I understand the NTHC application it was nothing more or less than a "normal" RMA consent application which could have been made by anybody. The case was not about "water rights" or Maori interests in water as such. The NTHC application was not (at least initially) supported by the local Papatipu Runanga). I don't know where that is at now. For myself I have issues about the idea that NTHC may use the water to convert forests to dairy farms but that was not part of the case either.

I would be interest in knowing if the sticky beaks from FOMA and NZMC consulted with Ngai Tahu before they sought to intervene in matters wthin our takiwa. As far as i can tell they were uninformed as to the nature of the case and could have cost the tribe and other Maori many tens of thousands of dollars on grandstanding lawyers.

I have heard that TR is onto the water rights debate in conjunction with other iwi and, if the past is anything to go by, if this litigation had been the right vehicle for the debate for Maori rights to be advanced that opportunity would have been taken.

As for posting the decision on a website, why would they? It will have been just a normal everyday business decision where the parties agreed an outcome rather than the costly and risky court process where one or other party may have lost all and both would have spent many $$$ on legal fees. I imagine there will be details of the agreement which the parties don't want to share for legal and commercial reasons.

Marty Mars said...

Kia ora anon

Good clarification.
It is quite difficult to find info about this maori council and yes it would be interesting to know who was consulted about what, and when, within our takiwa.

It is good if there are hui with other iwi around water rights. My concern is that I don't know if we have the resources, internally, to fight every fight. (assuming we want to fight them all of course).

I know that NTHC and local papatipu runaka had a difference of opinion initially on this one, and i'd hope the communication lines are sorted out so we don't get embarrased by NTHC again. I have not heard that paptipu runaka changed to support the NTHC line.

And again i agree about the use of water rights to convert forests, or high country to dairy farms. It just seems crazy to me that these people consider developing all these dairy farms as good economic sense - seems a very very short term vision to me.

In regards to finding out what's going on. i suppose the info will be tabled at a NTHC/TRONT meeting, and it may eventually drift down to the people via their reps or a magazine. I'd like to see something a little quicker than that. If the decision is not controversial then there should be no problem. If the information is controversial then, perhaps people should be aware of what is being considered, decided upon and actioned.

Anonymous said...

Kia ora Marty

Ngai Tahu as an iwi have led many cases on treaty rights such as for fisheries, SOE related matters and indeed the Whalewatch case. And, for the most part Ngai Tahu and the iwi that have joined them have won on the rights issues only to have either other iwi, other Maori or indeed the Crown intervene for all sorts of other confused pan-Maori interests.

Matters of law and protection of rights of indigenous peoples takes one path and so called social justice another. So Ngai Tahu as an iwi has always invested in rights protection and it has been better at picking its battles than some others and has enjoyed many "successes" some in the open and some well behind the scenes. Too often Ngai Tahu has been engaged on a rights based issue and out of the woodwork comes the "me too" brigade driven by the lawyers and the misinformed. This adds costs and usually ends up watering down, confusing or compromising the arguments.

In the fisheries context we had the "instant iwi" (add fish, $ and water) and indeed the "revive an iwi" movement as soon as the $$ were in sight. This was followed by the creation of the Urban Iwi myth another attack on the rights based approach.

And when the pretenders don't like the Court Decisions which uphold the "rights based" approach the losers go to the Waitangi Tribunal and the Crown and keep on watering down the impact of indigenous rights arguments because it is inconvenient for their short term ambitions.

The ongoing rights based arguments between NT and a reducing number of Te Tau Ihu iwi continues. TR has been to the Privy Council and back and to the Court of Appeal and back since 1990 on this case.

And then Ngai Tahu has the white anting pretenders of its own to deal with. They get involved to seek private gain and generally to undermine the rights of the collective. All this does is give sustenance to the legal profession and the Crown at the expense of indigenous rights.

All of these bloodsuckers are expensive not only for Ngai Tahu to carry but they make it very difficult to find battles iwi katoa can win and if iwi katoa do win the effectivness of the win is less than it could be.

Re- the reporting of decisions of NTHC, I sincerely hope it is not reported on, or if it is, it is just in passing. The fact some North Islanders made a political football out of a business transaction is not a reason to have TRONT or NTW interfering in the day to day activities of NTHC.

And with respect, the fact that it has come to the attention of your good self does not make it an issue that should be reported on.

If there had been a rights based interest in the case then TR would be aware of it. Also, for legal reasons it may be that the whanau would not be informed. Sometimes we as NTW just have to trust that the folks who have defended our rights for generations now are continuing to do so and they don't have time to report back every five minutes.

Marty Mars said...

Kia ora anon

And kia ora for being so polite.

There is no doubt the NT have, as you pointed out, led the way for "rights based interests" here and overseas. It is a credit to the teams that pulled those arguements together and presented them. Some have succeeded, some not, some successes are visible, some are not. All of that is great and long may those initiatives from NT continue.

The application for water from NTP in simple terms, was so that they could create some certainty around irrigation so they could then chop down the trees and build dairy farms.

The legal arguement around 'priority' has been considered important for both local authorities and applicants for resource consents. In the news article that started this post it was called, "historically significant." The fact that the case/appeal from NTP has been dropped was certainly considered newsworthy.

Apparently pan-maori groups have tried to jump on the bandwagon for their own reasons, and this has created an untenable position for NTP, with increased uncertainty around the likely results, is all good. Isn't that the nature of the beast?

I certainly don't think any commercial confidentiality should be breached. I believe in letting the governors govern, and the managers manage. No one has as much information as the people working on the issues.

Just a small side issue - I facilitate the discussion and have no other axe to grind, apart from my personal views of course. The discussion is open to all, and i would actually prefer others to debate the issues that i come across because i am not in any 'inner circle' of knowledge. My information, to create the platform for discussion, comes from the general and specific 'news' agencies. Which is where most of Ngai Tahu whanui get their information.

Should people be informed? The line that people are stupid and can't understand the issues and even if they did they still can't make good, sound decisions, is not one i agree with. You can have decision makers at the top of the tree, and you can also have discussion and debate around issues that are important, lower down.

Of course deciding what is important and what isn't brings us back, in our circular way, to the start of the point again.

At some point there are gatekeepers who decide what should be talked about and what should be private. Who are the gatekeepers and what mandate have they got? Perhaps they have been elected or recruited, or maybe they have just fallen into the position.

Someone, somewhere decides on the disemination of information. I'd like a wider view to be taken. i'd like NTW to be bought into the loop more and i would like to find out about important decision from my Iwi not the news. I don't think that that is unreasonable.

Your comments have raised some really interesting points that i hope you will continue to discuss.

This whole area of "rights issues" is very interesting. Are you able to elaborate, from your experience, on what this actually means, and how other groups including pan-maori groups have 'watered down' or compromised the arguements?

Do you believe in any pan-maori groups and their objectives of unifying maori as an indigenous people or do we really work at an iwi, hapu or whanau level?

I am not sure if the urban maori authorities are responses to, or expressions of, colonisation. Obviously they are competitors to Iwi organisations seeking redress or access to resources.

Your faith in our leadership is great. I share it.

But, isn't it a fact that TR didn't know about the NTP initial case before it was put?

Anonymous said...

Kia ora ano

I can't say if TRONT knew about the original application and Court case or not. At one level the only reason they should is as a common curtesy as the decision is not for TRONT to make. Under the previous NTHC leadership perhaps there was not so much consideration given to keeping TRONT in the loop.

NTHC has a mandate to manage the assets allocated to it and a requrement to make money from those assets. The land in question was purchased as forestry land and the returns on it are not flash. In order to generate better returns NTP has looked at securing access to water to provide for other "best use" options for the land. Nothing in the instructions it has received from TRONT so far suggest it should not do so and thus it is just business as usual from their perspective.

The issue seemed to have been that they did not consult with our Papatipu Runanga before they sought the resource consent which is very bad form and is inexcusable. Having sought the consent they were entitled, and I would have thought obligated, to try to secure their legal rights to access the water. Let us remember this, if NTP does not get access to this water then others will.

A high moral stance on this will not stop the allocation of a resource consent, it will just affect who gets the benefit of it.

Each of the NTHC businesses enters into contracts and agreements and takes legal action independently of TRONT and that is the way it should be. Some are reported to TRONT and others are not.

Going forward, I hear that TRONT is being more directive about its expectations, including a "no surprises" requirement and there is a lot of work going on to ensure that the organisation works together, albeit independently. It is important that the subsidiaries understand tribal matters but it is equally important that the businesses are left to be businesses.

TRONT is doing what it can to appoint good people using good processes to govern those businesses and to set expectations. It can't then get in and oversee all the decisions those businesses make.