Putini iwi opposes expansion of national parks through land stewardship review
West Coast iwi will oppose the expansion of national parks in the region through the stewardship land review process, the West Coast Regional Council has heard.
A staff report to the Resource Management Committee this week noted the proposed reclassification of 504 stewardship lands in the region.
Public submissions close July 26.
The review proposes the reclassification of lands that were not formally included in the domain of the Department of Conservation (DOC) when it was established in 1987, but set aside as “stewardship lands”. Some have already been saved or edited.
The uncertain status of stewardship lands has been controversial and the review has been criticized after it was suddenly announced last year by acting conservation minister Ayesha Verrall.
A panel of manawhenua was convened after Ngāi Tahu took legal action against the minister, and the West Coast Conservation Board was not consulted.
The council’s acting head of planning and science, Rachel Vaughan, said some parcels of land were proposed as national parks and other areas would require another form of classification.
Councilor and committee chairman Stuart Challenger said he was particularly interested in the implications for the use of parcels of land resulting from the proposed reclassifications, apart from those to be eliminated.
“Where can we go to see what those implications are?”
Vaughan said the biggest changes are usually to “conservation park” or another classification.
However, the “prescriptive” measures associated with the Reserves Act would have an impact.
“It actually has quite a few implications…it changes things quite significantly.”
Councilor Peter Ewen said it would be good to see on a map where the 18ha of land offered for sale was.
Councilor Laura Coll-McLaughlin noted a difference between the statement that certain lands “will become a national park” and the fact that this was a recommendation from the national committee reports.
“The Manawhenua panel doesn’t recommend that. It’s against the tribal position…it’s still a pretty current issue, I imagine, given the difference in recommendation,” she said.
Jackie Douglas, representative of the iwi resource consent committee, said the results of the exam and how it might follow should not be taken for granted.
“We oppose extensions of national parks through the reclassification of stewardship lands. Part of that opposition is that it inhibits us in our desires, if you will, to act appropriately as stewards.”
Vaughan said there were implications of being able to recognize this through reserve classifications under the current legal framework.
Councilor Debra Magner said she thought there would be a recommendation that grazing permit areas, for example, be devolved to Ngāi Tahu.
Vaughan said there has been an ongoing discussion with the DOC regarding the “special classification” of land and the need for cultural classification.
“This has not been implemented in (current) legislation so the recommendations remain based on what was available in current legislation, which was one of the points this advice raised in the submission: that classification of the west coast lands was premature.”
Indeed, the revision of the Conservation Act 1987 had not yet taken place.
Vaughan said that as the West Coast Stewardship Review was launched before the review of the underlying legislation, there would be anomalies given that the current law does not give effect to aspects such as “cultural values” or “socio-economic values”.
“It’s a critique of the process,” she said.
*Manawhenua panel member Paul Madgwick is also editor of the Greymouth Star
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