It is with great sadness that I acknowledge the passing of Tauranga City Council chief executive Ken Paterson. Ka tuku whakaaro i tenei wa ki tona whanau e noho mai ra i raro i te kapua pouri. Moea te moe roa e hoa. Apiti hono, tatai ono, ko ratou te hunga kahurangi ki a ratou ano. Apiti hono, tatai hono, ko te hunga ora ki te hunga ora.
Local Members Bills are one of the few ways of making or amending laws without necessarily being a Government Minister. They are distinctive in that they deal with “local issues”, that is, law which has an impact at local government level. Further, these sorts of Bills are “sponsored” by the local Member of Parliament – on behalf of a local authority.
I have suddenly become the Maori Party expert on this type of legislation, as I was recently asked to introduce a local Bill called the Mount Maunganui Borough Reclamation and Empowering Act Repeal Bill. The original Bill has some history, so of course repealing the legislation is quite significant.
In essence, the area we are talking about was taken by the old Tauranga Borough Council for the purposes of establishing sewerage ponds at the eastern end of Rangataua Bay. Nga Potiki as the local iwi, and individuals like Wiremu Ohia and Paraone Reweti, the MP at the time, were very vocal, protesting that the area was a source of food for the people and had important history attached to it.
What was really going to rub salt into the wound was that the outfall pipe was going to head to the ocean, but by way of an urupa and wahi tapu. In more recent times, the new Council has recognised that while they have inherited an area which is still being utilised, a significant portion of the land originally taken, will not be needed and so have moved to hand it back. The staff have followed all of the procedures and prepared documents to repeal the original legislation and it should run its course to a positive end. Well done Council!
For me, it is great to see Council and iwi working together and I cannot work out why this does not happen more often. When it does happen, it usually removes the angst by iwi, hapu, whanau about not being engaged and involved in decision making as tangata whenua. And yet as we saw with the Rena disaster, a unified approach is always better. So thanks again to the staff and the Council for taking the bull by the horns because as Nga Potiki state, ‘this is what we want’.
In talking history, as this article appears in print, the signing of an agreement between the Crown and Ngati Ranginui will have been signed as part of the treaty settlement process. What is unique about this signing is that it was due to take place at Te Ranga – Gate Pa. This place holds huge significance to the iwi in terms of Tauranga Moana history, and I would really encourage all readers to Google these names to get an idea of the history that sits at your back door. Treaty settlements are a long journey for iwi. From start to finish, they drain energy, resources, and human capacity, and are sometimes fraught with division and acrimony. This is probably as it should be, as history is debated, relationships tested and huge decisions made about packages that are generally no more than 2% of the real value of claims. So making it to the line is a testament to the fortitude of people, especially the leadership.
My heartiest congratulations to Ngati Ranginui, and I look forward to other Tauranga iwi following in the near future.