The Green Party has accused Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson and Agriculture Minister David Carter of leaning on the Department of Conservation (DOC).
Greenpark dairy farmer Barry Clark was told by DOC in May that his grazing licence on conservation land near Lake Ellesmere, south of Christchurch, would not be renewed. DOC's decision not to renew the licence was overturned at a meeting in August involving Canterbury-based ministers Wilkinson and Carter, Clark and Mahaanui area manager Bryan Jensen, and a five-year extension was approved. Extending the lease contravened DOC's policy of removing grazing from the lake edge to protect the environment and upset some DOC staff. It also contradicted what Clark was told by the department in 2004 – that the next five-year term of his lease would be his last. Clark's lease is the last for grazing cattle on conservation land around the lake's edge. Internal DOC emails said it was embarrassing and unfortunate Clark was invited to reapply for his concession.The decision was made without thinking about the environment or conservation of this lake or the relationship that DOC is supposed to have with Ngai Tahu. Within the Te Waihora Joint Management Plan it clearly states
Is this respect for Ngai Tahu?
"The rangatiratanga and kaitiaki of Ngai Tahu are upheld by Ngai Tahu and respected by the department within the management of Te Waihora and that that management is in accordance with tikanga and kawa.”
In September, more than a month after it was decided Clark's lease would be extended, Ngai Tahu contacted DOC to ask why it was not consulted. DOC staff replied "no concession had been processed or issued" and Clark's application would be sent to the Canterbury Conservation Board and Ngai Tahu for comment. Norman said it was extraordinary that the Government "lied" to Ngai Tahu by suggesting the decision had not been made.No that is not respect - it is the opposite. How can any iwi or hapu have any confidnece in DOC or the dim minister? This joint management plan was the first and it was completely ignored. If there have been lies - then what the hell is going on. The sooner full control of the Te Waihora is given back to Ngai Tahu the better.