More Places of Significance to Mana Whenua to be added
By Iain McManus
Auckland Council is exploring a plan change to add sites to the Sites and Places of Significance to Mana Whenua schedule in the Auckland Unitary Plan.
The Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan, notified in 2013, proposed a two-tiered approach to the management of sites of importance to Maori.
The plan identified 61 “Sites and Places of Significance to Mana Whenua” and 3600 “Sites and Places of Value to Mana Whenua”.
The Sites and Places of Significance comprised a mix of existing scheduled sites and new sites to which the Council and/or mana whenua attached significant cultural value, while the Sites and Places of Value were sites for which further research was required, but which the Council sought to protect until that research could be completed.
The Independent Hearing Panel supported a two-tiered approach but considered that there was insufficient evidential basis for scheduling most of the sites. As a consequence, the Panel recommended deletion of some of the Sites and Places of Significance, and the whole of the Sites and Places of Value overlay, and suggested that the Council revisit the matter via a plan change once it had undertaken sufficient research to support the sites.
Auckland Council accepted the Panel’s recommendation but the Independent Maori Statutory Board (“IMSB”) challenged that decision to the High Court. The High Court has since dismissed that appeal. The IMSB has until 5 April 2017 to file an appeal to the Court’s decision.
Back to the Future
Officers have sought approval from the Council’s Planning Committee to progress to the next stage of their work on a plan change.
Mana whenua have nominated an additional 270 places they would like to see protected and Council officers have been working with mana whenua to identify the cultural values of those places.
The next steps are to undertake consultation with landowners; further consultation with mana whenua to ensure that the value assessments are complete and robust; and preparation of the plan change documentation. Staff will then report back to the Council Planning Committee for permission to notify the plan change. The Council has not set out any timing for that work.
We will monitor Council’s progress and post an additional blog following the Council’s report back to the Planning Committee. However, please feel free to contact us if you have any questions in the meantime, or if you receive a letter from Council seeking to discuss a site on or near your land.