Co-governance of rivers de­liv­ers

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - VAUGHAN PAYNE

Dis­clo­sure of in­ter­est: I have joint Pakeha and Maori her­itage.

So my day-to-day life is, ge­net­i­cally speak­ing, a true ex­am­ple of co-governance in ac­tion.

All jok­ing aside, co-governance ar­range­ments in­volv­ing cen­tral and lo­cal gov­ern­ment work­ing with iwi have added real value to pro­tect­ing wa­ter­ways in the Waikato.

River iwi and Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil have worked to­gether closely and ef­fec­tively on the pro­posed Healthy Rivers/wai Ora plan change for the Waikato and Waipa rivers in a way that has helped the ef­fi­ciency and ef­fec­tive­ness of the process.

This co-governance has in­volved true part­ner­ships and joint de­ci­sion-mak­ing.

Un­til the 1990s, Maori val­ues were largely ab­sent from laws gov­ern­ing our nat­u­ral re­sources, par­tic­u­larly wa­ter.

This meant Maori and their val­ues to­wards an­ces­tral taonga were largely ex­cluded from de­ci­sion mak­ing un­til the end of last cen­tury.

There­fore, a num­ber of his­tor­i­cal claims be­fore the Wai­tangi Tri­bunal have re­lated to en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion.

More re­cent set­tle­ments be­tween the Crown and iwi have re­quired coun­cils and other agen­cies to co-man­age and co­gov­ern nat­u­ral re­sources with lo­cal iwi. This in­cludes the co­gov­er­nance of the Waikato and Waipa rivers un­der Healthy Rivers/wai Ora.

Im­por­tantly, both co­gov­er­nance and other co­man­age­ment ar­range­ments na­tion­ally have pro­tected pub­lic use rights of nat­u­ral re­sources in­volved.

In my view, when seek­ing to make good de­ci­sions, we need to weigh the pos­i­tives and neg­a­tives of dif­fer­ent op­tions. Hav­ing more peo­ple in­volved in this helps en­sure de­ci­sions are not only based on the ‘‘facts’’ of a sit­u­a­tion but the val­ues and ex­pe­ri­ences of all de­ci­sion mak­ers.

Co-governance has clearly helped broaden in­put into man­ag­ing Waikato wa­ter qual­ity is­sues.

There’s now real own­er­ship by iwi of our com­mon chal­lenges and, most im­por­tantly, the so­lu­tions to those chal­lenges.

Maori have brought val­ues and ex­pe­ri­ences – such as matau­ranga Maori (tra­di­tional knowl­edge) that add rich­ness to de­ci­sion mak­ing, as does the fact that iwi have mul­ti­ple in­ter­ests, in­clud­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal, social, cul­tural and eco­nomic.

For Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil, suc­cess­ful part­ner­ships with iwi in the cur­rent and fu­ture co­gov­er­nance and co-man­age­ment space in our re­gion are a pri­or­ity work area.

We have been worked hard to in­cor­po­rate the leg­isla­tive re­quire­ments of Treaty set­tle­ments into our day-to-day business pro­cesses, aim­ing for iwi part­ner­ships to be business as usual.

SUP­PLIED

Vaughan Payne is chief ex­ec­u­tive of Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil.

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