The Waitangi Tribunal has just released a pre-report on the management of the petroleum resource. I am not going to go into the rights and wrongs of my first statement above but rather focus on the report itself.
Why were the claims instigated?
The claims were brought by Ngāruahine of Taranaki and Ngāti Kahungūnu of Hawke’s Bay and Wairarapa. In essence, these tribes claim that the regime for the management of petroleum, as governed by the Crown Minerals Act 1991 and the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), is in breach of Treaty principles. In their view, three fundamental problems underlie the regime:
• the substance of the law is biased against Māori interests and culture, in favour of conflicting interests;
• the processes established to apply the law fail to ensure that there is effective participation by Māori to safeguard their interests and actually deter, and sometimes deny, Māori involvement; and
• Māori communities do not have the capacity to overcome the obstacles to their effective participation in the system because there are no reliable and sufficient sources of assistance available to them.and the Waitangi Tribunal says
In sum, we find that there are systemic flaws in the operation of the current regime for managing the petroleum resource. They arise from the combined effect of the following features:
• the limited capacity of ‘iwi authorities’ (tribal government) to take the role envisaged for them in the regime, and the Crown’s failure to provide adequate or appropriate assistance, despite acknowledging the problem;
• the Crown’s failure, despite its Treaty responsibility, to protect Māori interests, to provide local authorities with clear policy guidance and to require them to adopt processes that ensure appropriate Māori involvement in key decisions; and
• the low level of engagement with te ao Māori and Māori perspectives that is exhibited by central and local government decision-makers.
The result, we consider, is that decision-makers tend to minimise Māori interests, and elevate other interests, in their decisions about the petroleum resource. Consequently, neither the regime nor its outcomes are consistent with Treaty principles. The prejudice is that Māori cannot protect their lands, waters, and other tāonga, nor exercise their kaitiakitanga, in the manner or to the degree that they are entitled under the Treaty, and that the law envisages.
... Also, we think that the Crown Minerals Act should be amended to provide greater protection to Māori land, enabling Māori landowners to refuse access where that is their wish. We do not accept that the small, surviving Māori land base should have less protection in respect of petroleum than it is accorded in respect of other Crown minerals. To ensure that decisions are made by the fullest possible collective of owners, permit holders should be required to seek access permission from a meeting of assembled owners, as provided for under Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993.
The crown's failure this and the crown failure that. We know this but it is good to have it summarised after due consideration - they cannot hide from this type of report - it skewers them against the wall. But of course they will hide and run - they can't help themselves. Key will say "petroleum is not on the table and never will be", brownlee will just blah blah in his useless way. But there are groups of people who will not get pushed off the path and they will continue to poke this report in their eye and in their spokes.