Environment Canterbury promotes local Ngāi Tahu Bill to Parliament

Environment Canterbury is promoting a Local Bill to Parliament which, if passed, would ensure continuing mana whenua representation on the Council beyond next year’s election.

Local authorities can promote bills to Parliament, sponsored by a local MP. The local MP sponsoring the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngāi Tahu Representation) Bill is Rino Tirakatene, the MP for Te Tai Tonga. The Bill will be subject to consultation at the usual Select Committee stage.

Environment Canterbury Chairman Steve Lowndes said the Council had worked closely with Ngāi Tahu on the Bill which, if passed, would continue the representation of mana whenua on the Council. The current legislation expires in October 2019, leading to the promotion of the Bill.

“The Local Bill is a local solution for local issues and intends to continue what is already in place and working well. Continuing Ngāi Tahu representation on the Council is a key pathway to ensure the values and concerns of mana whenua are given full expression in the Council’s decision making,” Mr Lowndes said.

“Representation at governance level is the most effective way to give effect to statutory obligations under the Resource Management Act 1991 and the Local Government Act 2002. The practical benefits of representation have been proven over the last eight years in Canterbury, not least the greater efficiency in planning and consenting processes, reduced costs for both Council and consent applicants and the Council’s role in earthquake recovery. We have seen good outcomes for the region and for ratepayers.

“Ngāi Tahu is already a partner in much of what we do. Ngāi Tahu councillors have played a pivotal role in building the social capital and community ownership of solutions that underpin water and land management in Canterbury. They have also provided confidence to Papatipu Rūnanga and wider tribal members that their voices are heard at the Council governance level.

“The benefits of continued representation for Ngāi Tahu are ensuring that Te Ao Māori worldview is upheld as an essential part of decision-making and in a position of authority in the Canterbury region. Ngāi Tahu representation ensures a position of influence for mana whenua values and it creates a Governance structure that reflects a spirit and commitment to work together and true collaboration between mana whenua and the Regional Council,” Mr Lowndes said.

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