Further to my recent blog post on Hawke’s Bay Regional Planning Committee Sarah Taylor also had her letter (Accusations of racism 23/7/15) published in Napier Mail
Unlike Sarah Taylor I was pleased to see the Hawke’s Bay Regional Planning Committee Bill (RPC) pass through the committee stages in Parliament recently. For me it goes some way towards redressing the balance between the Treaty of Waitangi partners locally.
What the RPC Bill does is formalise a currently informal arrangement. HBRC’s planning committee already operates in a similar manner to the RPC. The RPC can only make recommendations to the full council on RMA planning issues. At the same time HBRC can only accept or decline any recommendations. It cannot amend them. To my mind this strikes a reasonable balance.
Supporters of the status-quo argue that having unelected members on the RPC is undemocratic. I would argue that it creates a relationship between Maori and HBRC similar to the one I have with my wife. I certainly wouldn’t present a decision to my wife fait accompli, nor do we vote on things. Why shouldn’t negotiations with our Treaty partners proceed in a similar manner?
As for the argument about RPC being racist I think this is just an expression of fear. When people see that things are changing, especially when they think power is being diluted, then the same old clichés come out. I think this fear is based on a lack of understanding. We are only talking about recommendations on planning issues after all.
I’m a pakeha. As far as I can tell what Maori bring to the table is positive. Not only do they have a spiritual connection to the land, air, and water they also understand the concept of commons. I for one welcome those who place these values higher than the need for economic exploitation. After all, it’s not as if HBRC have been exemplary managers of our environment.