Gen Zero critical of council’s relationship with iwi

Marian Hobbs
Marian Hobbs
Generation Zero believes the Otago Regional Council have treated Kai Tahu like a stakeholder rather than a partner.

The national, youth-led climate organisation told ORC councillors during annual plan hearings conducted via video conferencing yesterday that local iwi’s voice had been diminished, among other stakeholders.

Otago regional council chairwoman Marian Hobbs asked the presenters, Jen Coatham and Pippa Chang, if iwi should be prioritised over other parties, including Fish & Game, to which they responded "yes".

"There is specific obligations on all of government under Te Tiriti o Waitangi to work in partnership," Ms Coatham said.

The group’s submission said climate would be the biggest challenge for this generation, but addressing "knowledge gaps" within the community could help address climate issues in the region.

ORC could "empower" iwi and community groups by providing the necessary scientific knowledge to take pressure off skilled workers, who the climate organisation believed were in short supply or overcommitted.

The group said an example of successful community partnership could be seen in Motueka, where the effects of farming activity had resulted in high levels of E. Coli in the Sherry River catchment.

Farmers and scientists had worked together to test the water and targeted areas where more run-off was entering the river catchment.

"By identifying cattle creek-crossing as a key culprit of contamination, bridges were re-purposed or built for moving stock, reducing E. Coli levels by 50%."

The Sherry Catchment Group was formed as a result of the project, which works with individual farmers to build a specific plan for each property.

Generation Zero was not the only group who asked the ORC to encourage community involvement in addressing climate issues.

The Wise Response Society pushed for the council to go beyond adapting to climate change, to mitigation of its effects.

Lily McDougall, from the society, presented information about web-based carbon calculators designed to help individuals and households work out their carbon footprint.

Dugald MacTavish, who led the group's presentation, said Auckland Council was preparing to start a Future Fit calculation tool in August and the Otago Regional Council should promote something similar.

"People want to do the right thing, but often just don't know how."

The council should be part of an integrated action plan for the region to counter climate change impacts, he said.


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