Update from the Point England Development Enabling Bill Select Committee Hearings

Te Matapihi presented to the Local Government Select Committee as part of the hearings on the Point England Development Enabling Bill, held earlier today at the Ellerslie Events Centre.

We reinforced three points from our original submission:

  1. Te Matapihi unequivocally support Ngāti Paoa. We support the rights of iwi to develop land returned through settlement processes for housing within their rohe, and recognise their mana as the Treaty partner and kaitiaki of their rohe. Our role as Te Matapihi is to support and amplify the voices of iwi (where appropriate), without undercutting any direct Treaty-based relationships. We support the return of a portion of the Point England reserve as part of Ngāti Paoa’s treaty settlement as a matter of a right.
     
  2. It is our position that iwi-led non-market approached to regeneration, with strong government support, holds the key to solving Auckland’s housing crisis. In the Auckland Unitary Plan process, the draft affordability provisions (which equated to roughly 10% of any development over 15 dwellings) were lost. The amount of social and affordable housing planned for in the proposed development is much higher (20% social and 20% affordable). Given that Māori home ownership rates are much lower than those of the general population, the Point England development (whilst assisting Ngāti Paoa uri in the first instance) could also be an opportunity to assist mataawaka and other Māori into home ownership. This has huge potential to improve housing outcomes for Māori in Tāmaki Makaurau.
     
  3. Many of the (valid) concerns raised by the community can be addressed through good design. We are satisfied that the proposed overall masterplan is a good one, one that accommodates both the rights and aspirations of Ngāti Paoa and the needs of the Glen Innes / Point England community. This has been further strengthened by Ngāti Paoa’s subsequent commitment to constructing a further two sports fields to address the concerns over loss of recreational facilities voiced by the community in response to the original masterplan.

Finally, we asked the committee (and those assembled) to simply trust Ngāti Paoa – iwi have unique rights and responsibilities in their rohe, and fulfil the role of kaitiaki that only iwi can. No-one else has a longer-term stake in the Point England community, or is as committed to promoting positive social, cultural and environmental outcomes for that community.

The Committee heard from a wide range of submitters, including Ngāti Paoa, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff on behalf of Auckland Council, Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board, and a large number of concerned local residents.

Ngāti Paoa spoke powerfully of their connection to whenua, their history of raupatu, and their responsibility to tiaki the whenua and manaaki the wider community. Ngāti Paoa Iwi Trust Kaihautū and Negotiator Hauāuru Rawiri told the committee it would transform the reserve, which was neglected and polluted in places.

"This bill is part of our Treaty settlement, the opportunity to buy back our own tribal land and develop and enhance it, if Parliament does not enact this bill then Ngāti Paoa Treaty settlement cannot proceed."

A question was asked by the Committee, if the option has been put forward to accept shares or property from Tāmaki Regeneration Company as commercial redress, in addition to receiving the Point England reserve as cultural redress with a co-management agreement, would Ngāti Paoa have accepted? This was not offered by the Crown as alternative redress during the Treaty settlement negotiation process, however Auckland Council (41% shareholder in Tāmaki Regeneration Company) indicated that they would have been supportive of this option had it been on offer.

Phil Goff made two significant points in his presentation:

  1. That the Bill should explicitly reference Ngāti Paoa. Should Treaty negotiations break down, there should be a guarantee that the land will be retained as reserve land and not be released to a private developer for housing.
     
  2. Should the Bill be enacted, the full proceeds from the sale should be reinvested for the development of open space.

Something that stood out from the hearings (and contrary to much of the media reporting on the issue) was that the majority of opposing submitters, many of them local residents, were overwhelmingly supportive of Ngāti Paoa. They unequivocally recognised Ngāti Paoa’s right to redress under settlement, and support Ngāti Paoa’s aspirations for housing. What they objected to was the loss of public open green space, loss of recreational facilities, and, crucially, a lack of consultation and poor process on the Crown’s part. They spoke of a poor engagement process that has unfortunately strained the relationship between the community and Ngāti Paoa.

Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board Chairperson Josephine Bartley made it very clear that what they oppose is the Bill itself and the process surrounding it – not Ngāti Paoa. The Chairperson recounted a recent hui at Ruapotaka Marae where Ngāti Paoa explained their deep connection to their land. She said that this was very powerful, and also very important for the community to hear.

“This is very challenging because we don’t want to be an obstacle to Ngāti Paoa”.

Another key issue raised was the issue of precedent. A number of submitters were concerned that this particular piece of legislation circumvents the community consultation processes embedded in the Reserves Act 1977 and the Resource Management Act 1991. This could create a “dangerous precedent” of reserve land being released for housing without public consultation.

With the government’s proposal for urban development authorities now open for consultation, and the Mayor’s housing task force in operation from now until May, the question must be raised – how can we ensure that iwi interests and positive housing outcomes for Māori are promoted and protected in Tāmaki Makaurau?

Te Matapihi will be submitting on the proposed document and advocating to central and local government over the coming months to ensure that iwi aspirations and Māori housing outcomes are rightly at the forefront of any regeneration initiatives.

We look forward to receiving your pātai and input, and keeping our sector up-to-date on this significant issue as it unfolds.