Piako Post

Split over co-governance model

- STEPHEN WARD

Waikato councils are divided over a suggested new co-governance model for the Hauraki Gulf, which would see the Hauraki Gulf Forum have fifty-fifty representa­tion between mana whenua and Crown and local government representa­tives.

The forum’s roles include a wide range of responsibi­lities for oversight of the gulf.

An advocacy paper endorsed last Monday by the forum’s members 11-7 (with three abstention­s) agreed to the cogovernan­ce idea and a strengthen­ing of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act. Ministers will be lobbied over the decision.

The co-governance model is similar to one that prevails for the Waikato River through the Waikato River Authority.

Waikato regional council’s representa­tive on the forum Denis Tegg voted for the advocacy proposal, as did Hauraki District, but Matamata-Piako, Waikato District and Thames-Coromandel District all voted against, Tegg said.

He voted for the proposal after consulting with colleagues because the regional council successful­ly worked with iwi under river joint management agreements and it had a good relationsh­ip with the authority.

‘‘There’s a strong track record of successful co-governance arrangemen­ts in Waikato,’’ said Tegg.

Nicola MacDonald (Ngāti Rehua, Ngāti Wai), the mana whenua co-chair of the forum, was confident of the Government endorsing the co-governance model despite the tight vote.

‘‘It’s been a long-time coming,’’ she told Stuff.

‘‘The Government will take on board the spade work the forum has done.’’

The shift to a co-governance model is said to be aimed at giving effect to the forum’s commitment to a Treaty of Waitangi-based partnershi­p model. The anticipate­d benefit of that would be a greater reflection of mana whenua views in the forum’s work.

Also, one criticism of the forum is that is has sometimes been a ‘‘talkshop’’ and that legislativ­e change is needed to give more teeth to the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act.

The advocacy paper seeks inclusion of a Government-authored long-term Statutory Vision and Strategy in the Act to give it greater influence on relevant decision-making and planning by the Crown and councils.

 ?? CHRIS MCKEEN/STUFF ?? Dolphins play in the Hauraki Gulf – but beneath the surface there are divisions over its future governance arrangemen­ts. (file)
CHRIS MCKEEN/STUFF Dolphins play in the Hauraki Gulf – but beneath the surface there are divisions over its future governance arrangemen­ts. (file)

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