October 22, 2020
High Court sets rules for RMA iwi contests
Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei has welcomed a High Court judgment over how the Environment Court should weigh competing iwi interests in Resource Management Act consents.
The court rejected an appeal by Ngāti Maru Trust and other iwi with Tāmaki connections in relation to Panuku’s Westhaven Marina development.
Justice Christian Whata says the Environment Court was asked whether it had jurisdiction to determine whether any tribe holds primary mana whenua over an area which is the subject of a resource consent application, either generally or where relevant to claimed cultural effects of the application and the wording of resource consent conditions.
After rewording the question, he ruled the court can’t confer, declare or affirm tikanga-based rights, powers or authority, but it can make evidential findings about those rights of the purpose of ensuring obligations to Māori are met.
Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust deputy chair Ngarimu Blair says the decision means Auckland Council needs to change the way it consults with mana whenua, so the net is not cast too wide.
He says the next step will be a substantive hearing in the Environment Court where his hapū will present evidence of the strength of its relationship to the consent area.
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