Split over co-governance model
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.