West Coast council, iwi to sign 'first of its kind' pact

The West Coast of the South Island. Photo: RNZ
The West Coast of the South Island. Photo: RNZ
The West Coast Regional Council and local iwi will make history tomorrow when they sign a formal pact to work together.

The Mana Whakahono a Rohe agreement is the first of its kind in New Zealand, the council says.

A 2017 amendment to the Resource Management Act allows partnerships between councils and iwi, under which councils can transfer some RMA powers, including resource management, to iwi governance bodies.

West Coast Regional Council planning manager Hadley Mills said that might come later.

"Potentially, the council could transfer some powers in that way, but that is something that would have to be approved … the broad purpose is to set out a framework for iwi and the council to work together," Mr Mills said.

The Coast council has taken steps in the past to increase Maori participation in decision making. It is one of the few in New Zealand to give iwi voting rights; both West Coast runanga, Ngati Waewae and Makaawhio (Poutini Ngai Tahu) have seats on its Resource Management Committee.

"The council has a really strong relationship with iwi …and the Whakahono a Rohe arrangement sets out the processes and protocols for us to work together into the future," he said.

The signing of the historic Mana Whakahono a Rohe will take place tomorrow at Arahura Marae.

West Coast leaders also broke new ground recently when they formed a partnership with iwi in a broader alliance that also involves the Department of Conservation and Development West Coast, to co-ordinate and fund post-Covid job creation projects through the likes of Jobs for Nature and other funding streams.

The West Coast Alliance, known as Kotahitanga ki te Uru (working as one in the west) is chaired independently by former regional council chief executive Mike Meehan. He said other regions were lining up to follow the West Coast example.

"There are a lot of different funding streams coming through from the Government for environmental projects, like Jobs for Nature and the freshwater-related work; it makes sense for us all to work together."

 - Lois Williams

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