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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Maori Party blamed for Environment fee hike

The Greens are blaming the Maori Party for letting through a 900 percent increase in Environment Court fees.

Co-leader Metiria Turei says the jump in the filing fee from $55 to $500 is a disaster for iwi, hapu and whanau who want to object to damage to their rohe.

The Greens, the coalition of Environment and Conservation Organisations ECO and Forest & Bird challenged the increase as illegal, but the Maori Party voted with the Government on the Regulations Review Committee allowing the rule change to go through.

“This is simply a policy of shutting us out and that’s why I think the Maori Party response to this has been such a shock because that is the only justification for increasing the filing fees is locking out Maori and locking out those who don't have heaps of money,” Ms Turei says.

Most Environment Court cases got to mediation rather than a full hearing, but if they are not parties Maori groups won't get to take part in that mediation.


Phil Goff says Labour would need an assurance of good faith from prime minister John Key before the party could agree to work with the government on changes to the Foreshore and Seabed Act.

Mr Key yesterday said the government would announce the Act's replacement in the new year, and promised it's way of dealing with such customary rights claims would be is far more elegant and acceptable to New Zealanders

Mr Goff says Labour's previous attempts to work with National on the emissions trading scheme, superannuation and ACC all ended when the government refused to talk through the issues.

“We would want more guarantees of acting in good faith than we got last time when they broke their word, they broke their undertaking, they acted in bad faith so we’d want some reassurance around the fact they might be prepared in future not only to act in god faith but to continue doing so rather than playing political games,” he says.

Despite speculation beforehand, there were no major fireworks at Labour's caucus today in which Mr Goff's speech last week on the foreshore and seabed issue was discussed.


A music historian says many Maori musicians owe a debt of gratitude to recording industry pioneer Eldred Stebbing.

Mr Stebbing died at the weekend at the age of 86, ending a recording career that started in the 1940s.

John Dix, the author of the classic New Zealand music history Stranded in Paradise, says the producer and label boss gave a break to artists like the Howard Morrison Quartet, Daphne Walker, and Bunny Walters.

Eldred Stebbing's Funeral is All Saints Church in Ponsonby on Friday.


Primary school principals in Te Tai Tokerau will refuse to implement the new National Standards.

Around 80 tumuaki met at Kawakawa Primary last week to discuss Education Minister Anne Tolley's signature reform.

Moerewa principal Keri Milne-Ihimaera says similar testing regimes in other countries have done little or nothing to raise student achievement.

She says the standards are a step back from the new Ka Hikitea education strategy, which spoke of valuing Maori knowledge and raising Maori achievement.

“This year National Standards sends quite clearly the message that what’s really important in this country is measuring students against standards in literacy and numeracy that are in English only and that don’t value any of the educational experiences our Maori learners might bring to school with them and it does nothing to acknowledge or measure Maori knowledge,” Ms Milne-Ihimaera says.

Schools already provide parents with good information on how their tamariki are faring.


A leading resource management lawyer says a 900 percent increase in Environment Court filing fees will rule most Maori out of the planning process.

Parliament's regulations review committee turned down a complaint against the fee increase after the Maori Party sided with National on the issue.

Maori Law Review editor Tom Bennion, who made submissions to the committee, says in the past he would have advised people concerned with developments to lodge an appeal, but the new $500 fee will put off most applicants.

“If an iwi group files and says ‘We’ve got a section 6e issue linked to ancestral land being affected,’ any application for resource consent will say ‘Okay, let’s sit down and talk about it.’ So for $5 you have a mediation under way and you often get, most appeals are mediated to a settlement, about 70 percent. That simple option kind of gets taken off the table,” he says.

Maori will also be adversely affected by amendments allowing developers to demand security for costs, and by one which says an appeal can only consider issues raised in the original territorial local authority consent process.


Labour leader Phil Goff has stepped up his attacks on the Maori Party, saying it has failed to represent the Maori view on issues like climate change and Accident Compensation.

Mr Goff says the Maori Party's deal with National on the emissions trading scheme was shoddy and would benefit a small group of iwi corporates rather than Maori generally.

He says the Maori Party is polling at just over 2 percent, and it needs to stop pretending it speaks for all Maori.

“Their answer to criticism can’t be ‘If you’re criticizing us you’re criticizing Maoridom and that must be racist.’ That’s a nonsense. They’ve got to grow up and be mature enough to debate the issues on the merits and not hide behind the name of Maori Party which simply reflects one aspect of one group of one group of people and one political party that’s behaving very much like a political party,” Mr Goff says.

He says the media shouldn't buy into the idea the party represents the Maori point of view.

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